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28 years later...

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John Beattie | 10:53 UK time, Monday, 28 February 2011

Open up Microsoft Word...

The focus now is on England. Scotland haven't won away at Twickenham since 1983, which is the year that seat-belt use became mandatory in the UK, the first mobile phones were put to market by Motorola, and Microsoft Word was first released.

I played in the game, had my first McDonald's the following (hung-over) morning, and I've wanted this particular away record put to bed ever since.

Could Scotland beat England this year, 28 years later?

It seems unlikely, but it is possible.

But first a look back at Sunday and a nail-biting match that could have been won by Scotland despite conceding three tries and not scoring any.

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson faces his first trip to Twickenham as Scotland head coach. Photo: SNS.

The Irish deserved to win though and they are, after all, three places above Scotland in the IRB rankings. Ronan O'Gara's control was evident, and Sean O'Brien is an ample wrecking machine in an effective Irish pack.

But, if Scotland had played for 80 minutes the way they did for the last half hour then they would have won. There was an inexplicable, or is that understandable, lack of confidence in the first 40 that was jettisoned as they set about their task later.

The sin-binning of Allan Jacobsen was the strangest event ever, with both front rows up to their usual tricks and, although Scotland were down a man in his absence, it possibly gave Scottish players a focus.

Sean Lamont and Richie Gray were outstanding, as were Mike Blair and Rory Lawson when he came on, while Kelly Brown, again, proved that he has a motor and a relish just to be involved.

The beauty, from Scotland's point of view, was that lots of players had points to prove when they came on and they did so.

But where now has to be the questiion? There is much soul searching as to why Scotland, as a team, aren't scoring tries and if I had the answers I'd be the coach.

I am writing this late on Sunday night, and I am down. And people who know me will understand: I don't get down.

I sat beside the parents of Thom and Max Evans after the game and when I see what happened to Thom I do realise that there is more to life than winning games of rugby, but when you lose a few in a row it's not fun any more talking about it, writing about it, and trying to explain it, and asking people questions about it.

So, I need to get some sleep and some focus and I'll come back to this on Monday morning.

Don't be like me, don't get down.

On the upside, I think Scotland will frighten England.

Time to close down Microsoft Word, the words don't come easily sometimes...


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  • Comment number 1.

    At least the players showed some fight in the last half hour or so, but surely they should have started the game like that!

    On another matter, as someone who can't afford to go to Murrayfield, I am always amazed by the noise the away teams fans make. Whether it is Ireland, England or Wales the Scottish fans seem regularly outsung and frankly this is pretty embarrasing. Prawn sandwich brigade anyone or just too many tartan ruggers??

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a good point-what is there left to say about why the team is not being successful and what they need to do to turn it around? It seems like we have said it all before-too many unforced errors and giving away soft tries early in the game. It is difficult not to be down about it when we don't seem to learn these lessons from one game to the next. At the moment i think it is doubly hard because throughout the last year we seemed to be making progress, learning the lessons, and have in the last two games apparently taken a big step backwards. The only answer is the team has to keep working at it and we have to keep supporting them.

  • Comment number 3.

    Another bizarre, vacuous non-article from Mr Beattie. Too much to go into, but 1 point: Mike Blair was "outstanding"? Oh dear.

    It seems Robinson still hasn't learned from his selectorial blunders (which got him sacked as England head coach), even with a far smaller pool of players to choose from.

  • Comment number 4.

    John, I admire your optimism.

    Just one question, how exactly are Scotland going to frighten England this time? By creeping up on them from behind and saying "Boo!"?

    Against Ireland we never looked like scoring a try, except once and then Max Evans demonstrated his inexperience by taking the ball into contact when the pass to Chris Paterson was the obvious move.

    I think that the team that finished against Ireland should start against England. At least we will give them a decent game for a bit.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm not totally clear why Scotland should "frighten England", certainly not at Twickenham. Let's be clear about this - not only have 28 years gone by since Scotland's last win in London, but the overall total is 2 wins at Twickers since World War II. This is by far the worst away record in the 5/6 Nations, infinitely worse than England's record in Cardiff or even Ireland's abject litany of woe in Paris.

    During these 70+ years Scotland have often fielded very strong sides and England dismal ones. On paper, the Scots have even been favourites on the odd occasion. It has rarely mattered - you guys don't travel south that well. It's worth noting that the victory years of 71 and 83 came against arguably the weakest two England sides in history (no 5 nations wins at all from 71-72; only one from 83-84), while Scotland in 83 were only a year from a Grand Slam. This time, Scotland are infinitely poorer, while England, albeit miles from the finished article, are far better than they have been over the past seven years or so.

    Even when we were basically garbage (2005 and 2007 especially spring to mind), we won pretty comfortably at Twickers against Scotland without playing in the least bit convincingly. Overcoming the weight of history on Sunday week would, in my view, rank as the biggest turn-up in the Six Nations since Italy won their ever match in the Championship 11 years ago.

  • Comment number 6.

    dont know why the irish are giving away so many tries especially against a team that didnt sniff the try line. Andy rbinson can bleat all he wants but he could hae kicked for the corners and tried to cross the line rather than kick for 3 points. problem is they have a very ordinary back row. jacobsen is out of his depth, no stamina or strength or mobility and the back line is less talent than my old school

  • Comment number 7.

    I think its pretty easy to see why Scotland don't score tries. They kick every penalty in the opposition half. They rely way too much on the boot.

    They need to sharpen up their basic skills (as do all home nations!) keep the ball in hand and keep going for tries.

    the drop goals of Parks and penalties of Paterson are good but to start winning regularly they need to keep possesion, gain confidence and run the ball.

  • Comment number 8.

    In all fairness, they weren't helped by the ref. Even as a fellow Welsh man I can't cover up and say Owens had a good game. To bin a Scottish player and not an Irish player during the whole game was unfair...

    ......but you know what they say.....


  • Comment number 9.

    John, being an ex-internationalist yourself and having a family member play for the current national side will make you more vulnerable than most to Scotlands habbit of loosing test matches. I on the other hand have become a bit more thick skinned in my older age, where once I would not have been able to speak for days after a loss I find myself shrugging it off fairly soon after the final whistle these days ( I think I may have become immune to poor Scotland performances).
    Let’s face the facts that we were 2nd best for the whole 80 mins yesterday and never really looked like scoring a try. Ireland were never really trembling at the knees by our attacking display within the backs, and showed us how to score easy tries for fun, which was quite simply embarrassing.
    Simple fact is both our pro teams are lying precariously close to the bottom of the magners and our national side has been beaten by not the greatest of opposition in the last 3 test matches. Jim Telfer is quoted today as saying that brains and not brawn won the game yesterday and he might be absolutely right.
    Firstly we put a rookie stand-off in with a centre partnership that have never played before, Secondly positional kicking was non existent and we didnt exploit the acres of space behind the Irish backline and thirdly we played far to much rugby in our own half - we should have been pinning them down in their own 22 and then playing some rugby, thats the only way we will score any tries (getting back to your original point).
    The writing is on the wall for this side and a horrible fixture is coming up next at Twickenham, where England should and probably will do a demolition job on us. Not fun being a Scottish rugby supporter these days but like I say ive become a bit too thick skinned to worry about it for too long!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    No one was "outstanding" in yesterday's game!!!!! Another example of "frightened rabbit in head lights", Only started playing after they were 10-ish points down. NO - you start playing from the moment the ref blows the whistle..... Not an hour later, what is the point in that.... What point did they prove yesterday?!?!?!?!?!. You can count on your one hand how many times they passed the gain line in first half!!!!! Two steps forward three hundred backwards. The ball was like a hot patato in their hands. "I don't want the ball, I'll get blamed for any mistakes".

  • Comment number 11.

    As a lifelong scottish fan i have watched a lot of defeats over the years and the occassional good win. i was very optimistic after the summer and autumn tests and was going for a 3rd position finish. yes we lost the game just but i thought the refereeing was unusually inconsistent from nigel owens. When you look at the penalty count its strange why ireland didnt get a sinbinned player. I would like to think we could win at twickenham but as an realist i cant see it i just hope we salvage something and avoid the wooden spoon by beating italy. Robinson has done a great job with the team and doesnt deserve the critics he has. He was treated so badly by England i dont blame him for coming north he did a good job with edinburgh as well. Fair play John for typing an article after watching the game and being able to find positives. I enjoy reading your thoughts.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dave Morgan @8. If Scotland had won you'd have been saying that Ireland weren't helped by the ref as he gave 12 penalties against them. It was not the ref we were trying to beat it was the crowd in green.

    You can still win a game with a poor referee, if you are good enough. Yesterday, Scotland were not good enough.

    Jim Telfer is good at criticising but he is the one that started the decline of Scottish rugby that Mckie is continuing on his behalf.

  • Comment number 13.

    Scotland just seem to be one of those teams that has the habbit of making horrendous basic errors, and are always punished for them. The first irish try for example is not something you expect to see scored so easily, and it is sometimes pretty embarrassing. Its a reccuring theme with scotland, especially this six nations - if we look back to the france game, the ease with which we concede points from errors is shocking, leading to 2 major points to improve. Basic handling errors - yes professional rugby players are bigger and the hits correspondingly harder, but my university team drop less balls from poor passes and in the tackle than scotland. Secondly, the scramble defence is very mixed, and needing more consistancy.

  • Comment number 14.

    Where is the team that played France only 4 weeks ago?!? The Irish and Welsh performances were abysmal and there is absolutely nothing for the English to fear. If they can contain the French I can only dread what the score line is going to be against the us! Some of the players performances were still so far below what should be expected at international level. For Nick de Luca to rush out of the line for Heaslip to walk in under the posts was criminal and for Ross Ford to be sat down by the biggest wet lettuce on the pitch O'Gara is inexcusable!!!

    I don't blame all of this on the players though. Going from one of the most structured performances I've seen from a Scotland team (against France) to the recent performances, it looked like the players didn't have a clue. This has to be majorly down to the coaching staff, and the lack of instruction given. I believe we have the talent to make line breaks but far too often this relies on the individual (Evans, Lamont, Grey). From what I could see, collectively as a team, Scotland don't look as if they know how they are going to break down any opposition and with that fundamental missing, we will continue to lose.

    Liked Lamont at 12 and with Ansbro back, De Luca should hang up his international boots or have them hung up for him!!!

    As for ‘inspiring a nation’...woeful!

  • Comment number 15.

    De Luca arghh it doesn't help team confidence when right at the start he step out of the line and gives Ireland the perfect start. Not the first time he has cost us 7 points right at the start anyone remember Paris. Why oh why is he picked maybe now he will be dropped. I thought Lamot did well not easy with what was outside him.

    I was at the game with my ref link on. Yes I agree the ref didn't cost us the game but AR was right everytime we got into there 22. Hands in the ruck, stepping through from the side or lying on the ball. Yes Ireland played the ref because they didn't get a yellow and they knew the way he ref'd the scrum he never was going to. e.g. he consistently asked the Irish number 3 to step closer (I didn't think he was too far by the way) he never did!! he warn him three to step forward or he would get carded he didn't ref bottled it let scrum go down anyway then carded Chunk!!! how does that work.

    I may be in the minority here but I didn't think it was as bad as the Welsh game and in the part of the west stand I was in, the noise of scots in the crowd was much better.

  • Comment number 16.

    Andy Robinson's complaint that an Irish player should have been sin-binned may well be valid. For Scotland to score a try, however, the entire Irish XV would have had to be sent off.

  • Comment number 17.

    "On the upside, I think Scotland will frighten England."

    Keep thinking Jonny....

  • Comment number 18.

    Just re-read my post. Please forgive my English too much to write and trying to summarize. What I meant to say was Ref bottled it and let the scrum engage.

    I also though Jackson did reasonably well apart from lack of mixing it up with some tactical kicking. Also got to say Parks did well when he came on, maybe that's what should happen coming on as sub. Stick with Jackson give him a chance with the world cup coming up.

    Just please please drop De Luca.

  • Comment number 19.

    England fan in peace.

    It's been said time and again for a few years now, with the same result - that Scotland will cut loose and have an exciting new back division etc, but with the same result being, dropped passes, basic errors, and having to rely on the Terminator-esque kicking skills of Paterson and his cohorts. It's a problem quantum physicists are still trying to work out, but to be honest I dont really think it's that difficult.

    People talk about the 'New Zealand style' of play, i.e. offloading out of tackle and continuety, but isn't this a style all teams should aim for? Isn't the whole aim of the game keeping the ball alive as much as possible, and contact/going to ground should be avoided if possible? This is where I believe Wales are misfiring at as well - this obessession with 'ball-carriers' is limiting gameplans, by saying that a player made x amount of carries is a positive - yes, but what did he actually do with that ball? Just get brought down? Turned over? Slow ball produced? It counts for nothing unless you can do something with it.

    I understand the tight exchanges are a crucial part of rugby - the impacts in the England-France game were brutal and monstrous as times - but at the same time I do believe, by perservering with big centres and 'ball-carriers', we are risking limiting our ambition and ability.

    The best moment of the game for Scotland came late on, when they offloaded out of the tackle about 2-3 times in succession, and made a great break and burst upfield as a result. They then panicked and got turned over. This illustrates 2 things - 1, the value of keeping the ball alive and having support players, which is what NZ do so well, but at the same time isn't rocket science - it's something all teams can aim to do. And 2, Scotland's rabbit in the headlights mentality - against Wales they blew 2 overlaps in one movement, one on either side of the field. Robbo was hopping mad, with good reason. It just strikes me that their players aren't used to playing heads-up rugby, and dont seem to be able to make desicions on the fly and take advantage of space, overlaps, offloading etc. I'm not slagging anyone off, and it perplexes me as to why it's such a problem, and as I've already said I've seen hints of it with Wales, as well as Italy, and to a degree our young lot.

    Speaking of which, anyone saying that the match at Twickenham will be an exercise in putting lights in the scoreboard - I wouldn't be so sure. Maybe I'm just cynical, but England have a capacity to give away stupid penalties at the breakdown - exactly what Scotland managed to force Ireland to do. It didnt matter that Ireland scored 3 tries to nil - they still only won by 3, due to poor discipline. This worries me with regards to England, especially after the biblical stupidity I witnessed at times in the 1st half against France. It did improve as the game went on, granted. Plus we also know that Scotland, in the same vein as Wales, like to raise their game against the Auld Enemy. Having said that, if Scotland's midfield leave that many gaps defensively, Ashton and friends might well have a field day. I'm looking forward to it.

    Just a question to people - what do you reckon England fans' reaction will be to seeing Robbo step into Twickers again? Im sure rugby fans are above tribal booing, but it will still be interesting to see.

  • Comment number 20.

    As an rugby fan, from England (apologies), I find the Scottish optimism ahead of the 6 nations amusing. The comment about Scottish rugby in the Magners league is spot on, stirring victory again a tired SA side being an exception. There are clearly some talented players in an improving side but they aren't playing with any confidence in their collective ability. I suspect if the players were asked individually what their best approach/game plan should be there would be 15 different answers, with Dan Parks asking to have more guesses.

    Scottish strengths were always through the back row and scrum half with lots of quick ball. Perhaps they should give this a go again.

  • Comment number 21.

    I don't know exactly what has gone wrong after the hope of the Autumn. Certainly some players are not at their best. John Barclay, whom I considered a contender for the openside Lions berth on the next tour, has been a shadow of his former self. Ross Ford, a lion, was anonymous and took a hand off from O'Gara! Moreover, his old failing on the throw was back to haunt him at a crucial time. Euan Murray has been poor this season and deserved to be replaced by Moray Low, never mind that it was a Sunday. Added to that some players dont appear fully fit and some are not worthy of a place....Southwell, DeLuca, Walker.

    I really fear now for our trip to Twickenham. I had hoped to be going there with two or three wins under our belts, it was possible. I was there in 1983 and cheered triumphantly when Tom Smith flopped over the line, Roy laidlaw ran around the English back row and Jim Renwick and John Rutherford controlled the back division. It was the start of the 1984 grand slam in my view! Will we ever see the likes again, I doubt it!

    There are a number of related issues though. We dont seem to get the rub of the green from any of the referees. This weeks shambolic performance by a welsh referee follows on from several more from Irish whistlers in previous Scottish matches. Why do we seem to come out of these 50-50 decisions the losers more often than not. In saying that, we were fortunate not to get a yellow card against Wales, who had two at one time....but that type of situation is a rarity for us. Indeed, do the referees think the paying public want to watch their display or listen to their continual chatter. I thibk the current crop all base their style on Clive Norling who ruined many matches over his career with his self promoting displays. Where are the Scots referees such as Hosie or Fleming?

    I do agree that AR should be coach, selection errors aside. Steadman as defence coash also seems correct. But what is Townsend doing? He drove us mad with his mercurial performances as a he now coaching them to throw wild passes and drop the ball as he did continually.

    The hope is that we get a special generation that will put us back on the map. The fear is that this is it!

    Professionalism has killed the game in Scotland. We have too small a playing pool, too little investment and our sporting culture is dominated by soccer. Professionalism has also killed the game in my view. It is too like rugby league now.....lines of tacklers, big bruising hulks, little finess or fast interplay in the backs. The crash ball is viewed as a constrctive and common move. I wonder if professionalism had been common in the 70's and 80's whether we would have seen Jim Renwick or David Johnston.......their likes have gone forever I think!

    I miss real rugby union, the type you played at Twickenham in 1983!

  • Comment number 22.

    I looked at the Irish game as a real test of Scotlands progress and ability. It's not good news. Lets start with the moans first:

    1. De Luca - gave away the first try. He is poor and has been all tournament. Anonymous. Whats happened to Cairns?

    2. Ross Ford - right you big lump, time to do something. Nae use being able to bench press the same weight as a small car if you're soft and get put on your backside by the powerhouse that is Ronan O Gara. He and Hartley are worlds apart. Ford got in the Lions don't you know - seems to have been dining out on that one ever since. Lawson to start - looked better and more up for it when he came on.

    3. Gregor Townsend - painfully slow recycling, scrum half taking 4 or 5 steps before pass and a completely ineffective back line who like to run at the defensive line and just before contact, do a pointless pop pass to the boy next to him, who then gets splattered. Repeat 5 times for small game line break then drift across pitch school boy style.
    As great a player as he was, what is he actually doing or teaching them? How many times did we see Lamont or Evans making a break and not one support player on his shoulder? Thats why we dont score.

    Rant over..positives:

    1. Richie Gray - his blonde hair naturally makes him stand out but he gave the Irish lineout a real hard time and was everywhere in the loose. Scottish man of the match.

    2. Sean Lamont and Max Evans. They looked dangerous every time they had the ball and showed spirit. Sean with power and Max with speed. They would make a good pairing.

    I'm sorry for picking on individuals Mr. Beattie and I know it's something you never do but after the farce that was the Welsh match, this was a chance for some players to really show some grit. And they diddnae!

  • Comment number 23.

    Well, Well and there was I thinking that only the English were grumpy and sad when we lost (Trust me I am the most miserable sod in the country when we lose). But let me say this, I think Scotland will frighten England, and because of this fear England will win. Scotland have nothing to lose in the next game everyone expects England to hammer them except i suspect MJ and the players. All this defeatist talk is dire, it shows no repect for your own country and a little less for the opposition. I think Scotland are dreadfull at the moment but they have, and will win games that they shouldnt. As an Englishman I just hope its not against us.

  • Comment number 24.

    This was a better Scottish performance than against the Welsh, but quite simply, we weren't good enough! Rugby matches are 80 minutes in duration, only playing for 30 of those isn't going to work. Thought Lamont, Gray & Brown all had good games, unfortunately, that's no where near enough players stepping up to the mark!

    Not sure what guidelines referees are given these days....a 13-4 penalty count against Ireland, yet it's a Scot that's yellow carded! Saying that, we did fail to convert a 15 -13 player advantage against Wales!

    The thought of playing England at Twickenham in 2 weeks fills me with utter dread! England are playing some really good rugby & confidence is high. Nevertheless, I will be there cheering on Scotland as always....who knows, pigs might fly :)

  • Comment number 25.

    If we hadn't played such rubbish against Wales I wonder if we'd have had a different view of yesterday's game. Something like 'too slow out the blocks but almost nipped it', rather than flaying ourselves over and over again.

    Like #9 I'm also developing a thick skin. We've had a terrible decade or so, with the disaster that was Matt WIlliams and then the underwhelming Hadden era. And I thought that, having had a good 2010, we were looking at probably 3 home wins in this year's 6N and giving France & England a run for their money. I think the anger after the Wales game was such that unless we really played a blinder against Ireland we'd all have been harrumphing. I took comfort in the fact that the last quarter yesterday was genuinely tense and exciting to watch.

    We've got severe problems at 10, and have done for ages, and that means a tactical headache. Nonetheless, I think hats off to Robinson for blooding Jackson yesterday. Parks has been very inconsistent of late, and Godman was only just starting to look like he might be an international 10 before getting crocked, so what are the options? It’s too late to play Mossy at 10.

    By the way, for everyone who is saying get rid of de Luca, who would you put in his place? Shall we bring back the legend that was Marcus di Rollo?

    I think we'll lose to England and have the usual dreary slug-fest against Italy, but Scotland are a work in progress. I might be more selective about which games I pay 50 quid for at the moment, but I’ll support them always, and Andy R has been, and will continue to be, very good for us.

  • Comment number 26.

    I was annoyed by Blair taking steps before he passed the ball. It is something that he doesn't need to do and puts pressure on the players he is passing to as he isn't drawing defenders onto himself. Also in general the backs didn't suck in defenders before passing, Ireland drifted and read the script before we did and tackled the man with relative ease most of the time. If Max Evans had passed to Paterson then we would have won the game regardless of whether or not we deserved to. Lamont stood by what he said though and put in a good performance along with Gray and Brown but to win an international you need the whole team playing well as one or two guys can't do it themselves - it is a team sport after all!

  • Comment number 27.

    A lot has been said and written about 'progress' since the Wales debacle. The only definition of progress in my book is winning. A poor Welsh team and an average Irish team were both there for the taking.

    If the Scottish front row is not up to the task, Scotland will never win international matches. Watching Glasgow and Edinburgh all season, it is abundantly clear that there are no world class props in Scotland. If there are any question marks over midfield combinations, these will only be made even bigger if the only ball we ever get is when our scrum is reversing backwards at a rate of knots.

    And if one more Scottish player destroys a promising move in the opposition 22 by knocking the ball on, I'll scream. These guys are professionals. Other teams are not so profligate. Why are Scotland?

  • Comment number 28.


    In for De Luca mmm

    Ansbro, Cairn, Grove to name 3. We can't afford to lose 7 in the first 5 minutes again. He even hold the ball wrong when he goes into a tackle its basic's he can't do. Most kids rugby players, footballers, hockey player etc. know not to step out of the line!!!!

    Sorry but he has had enough chances.

  • Comment number 29.

    Our inability to score tries, learn from our mistakes and get the basics right is doing my head in.

    Credit to Robinson for the experimental changes he made. It was a brave move which very nearly paid off and it gives us all a useful sense of perspective about how best to tackle the rest of the 6 Nations and the World Cup.

    I'll just post up some stats to contribute to the proceedings here. Let's not quibble over decimal places and the like. It's the trends we're after.

    Coaches winning records. Geech 42%. MW 18%. FH 39%. AR 44% (41% for England).

    Average number of tries scored in 6 Nations 2008-2010. Sco 3. Ita 4. Eng 9. Wal & Ire 10. Fra 13.

    Since the 6 Nations began we have an overall record of P 58, W 15, D 2, L 41. Which means we're winning about 1 game in every 4.

    Our overall winning record against the English is 33% and against Italy it's 67%.

    Lets not go down the route of saying stats can be twisted to suit any means, lads. I've posted those up to give us some constructive debating ammunition and a clearer sense of historical perspective.

    AR is clearly doing a very good job with what he has to work with. We've already scored 3 tries in this years 6 Nations and there're still two games to go. Our record against the English and their current form means we're probably in for another doin' at Twickers, but wouldn't it just be so glorious to derail their train to Grand Slam Central? And mug them for a Triple Crown, too.

    Still, Lord only knows why we cannae score tries. It's really, really doing my head in!

  • Comment number 30.

    Another defeat at the hands of another average team. yet again giving away soft tries. i do belive that Robinson is the right man for the job but surly there are still major concerns. After almost every defeat players and coaches come out and say that positives can be taken from the matches. well do they put these positives into practice for the next match. I have to agree with Lamont, I too am getting fed up with galiant loosers tag. Very concerned about the Twickers game, I would love for Scotland to put thev positves into practise.

  • Comment number 31.

    What Scotland need is to go back to basics keep the ball go through the phases. Then when the time is right release the likes of Lamont,Ansbro and Evans.They never seem to get the opportunity to run in any space because we are to quick to kick the ball away and when we do spin it out they run out of space because its so slow. Evans has to constantly cut back inside. Tactically nieve we also need to look at what strengths are in the other teams and adjust our tactics to suit. We took Wales apart last year on their own ground for 70 minutes and would have beaten them if not for a bad decision by the ref and poor decision making by Parks at the end i would have accepted a draw but no we tried to win it and there was no way at that point we were going to all we had to do was kick it out for a draw. I agree that AR is the man for us but we need to look at a new backs coach the backs have the talent & pace but for some reason they dont Gel thats why we dont score tries. When one makes a break nobody supports him if that were Newzealand or France there would be 3-4 players around his shoulders waiting for the off load. We all go on about Scottish Rugby Newzealand is a small country and they do alright because they have the investment and good coaching. We need to go to Twickenham on the 12th and put in a performance England will throw everything at us from the start this is where we will need Parks to keep them pushed back into there own half where they can cause minimum damage and we can get ourselves a platform to work from. England will employ a rush defense so lets chip it over them get them turning put them under pressure try to avoid scrums as that again is there strength. Lets slow the ball down when they get it in our half the other teams seem to get away with it against us and dont get penalised !!!!We will benifit from having Joe Ansbro back as i feel he has been the standout player for us this year we could do with having Morrison back though.We have showed that we can score tries we did it against France so why not the English Come on Scotland !!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    If the LIONS were to tour now how many Scotland team members would travel?

  • Comment number 33.

    apart from the doctor!

  • Comment number 34.

    Get rid of De Luca and that would solve one situation. As I see it we might as well playing with 14 men. He has made several costly mistakes throughout this campaign that have resulted in either penalties or tries, and yet we're still playing him. This doesn't make sense. The first Irish try was a gift because of De Luca.

    Next problem to solve? Get a proper attacking coach. We're okay for defense and scrum (when Father Murray isn't around), but our attacking is absolutely diabolical. We certainly know how to run up to them and give them a bit of a fright, but not once do we actually look capable of scoring tries. Poor tactical decisions, not offloading, inexperience. Sounds utterly familiar and could all be solved by proper coaching within this field.

    England...hah where to start. Scotland are going to be going into this game as heavy underdogs, which sometimes works to our advantage as we loosen up and organise a bit better knowing our chances are slim. England though are looking very powerful at the moment - they have some extremely good runners who are getting alot of time with the ball thanks to some very good decisions.

    I suspect really we're going to lose, and I don't honestly hold up much hope against Italy either, who have frightened several teams this season. Hell though, i'm used to this. We do this every year, so why get upset? Same old same old.

  • Comment number 35.

    Having witnessed first hand the dismal displays against Wales and Ireland it would appear many are clutching at straws. Two losses to two very ordinary teams.

    If I could start with the positives ..... the weather was lovely

    Two Italy tickets for sale

  • Comment number 36.

    I just don't understand Dan Parks decision making. With the game nearing its end, Scotland 6 points down, Scotland playing advantage and attacking the Irish line, why on earth would you go for a drop goal? Surely the only sensible option is to keep attacking and go for the try to potentially get the 7 points and win the match. We would have got the penalty under advantage anyway so the 3 points wouldn't have been lost if we didn't get over the line. It makes no sense to me.

  • Comment number 37.

    Wow, a blog about another team other than England!?!? Only need to look at the below (More from this blog) to see that there has and always will be other blogs for other countries.

    For me Scotland were stringing phases together but once the backs were given the ball and overlaps created they completely failed to make use of them. Time and time again instead of drawing the man and then passing the ball, long looping miss passes were sent allowing the Irish defence to drift across. We used to get torrents of abuse from our welsh coach at school for not drawing the man before passing. RObinson must be pulling his eyebrow hairs out in frustration. If they can learn to do that against England then they might trouble us but if they can't I fear their pack will get destroyed and they'll get starved of the ball.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have just two points to make I have been saying for over a year now why do we continue to put DROPPER DE LUCA in the team it is obvious what ever talent he has at club Rugby he cannot bring it to the international stage !!!! so lets get rid bring in Alex Grove at least he can tackle !!!. The second point is if we continue to have a negative attitude we will never succeed yes we are all hurting what we need to do is put the poor performances behind us and get some heart. Wales went through a barron period but came out of it eventually and i believe we can given better coaching in the right area ie the backs.

  • Comment number 39.

    As an Irish man I couldn't have been more frustrated watching the game yesterday. There was plenty of four letter words being shouted at the TV. If was absolutely appalling by Ireland and we are our own worst enemy. We outscored an ordinary French team by 3 tries to one and lost and outscored a very poor Scottish team by 3 tries to nil and barely won. When oh when will Ireland ever learn to stop giving away stupid penalties in their own half? I don't know what Declan Kidney is doing. He needs to knock some discipline into this idiotic team. We gave away a penalty on average every 5.7 minutes. The lineout is also a joke. Andy Robinson claimed Scotland got themselves back into the game. Rubbish! Ireland got Scotland back into the game. I like Scotland but they were awful and offered nothing in the entire match except a decent goal kicker. Ireland kept giving away stupid penalties in the breakdown. They needed to learn yesterday to let Scotland have the ball as the Scots were going nowhere with it. Unless we stop giving away idiotic pointless penalties then we will lose to Wales and England. Watching Ireland at the moment is like watching a bunch of headless chickens.

  • Comment number 40.

    The only way we will frighten England is if England turn up thinking the game is already won. Thankfully, it's not unknown for England to be that arrogant; however, Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Simon Shaw et al are far too long in the tooth to let that happen.

    Hape, Tindall, Ashton and Foden against De Luca, Lamont, Walker, Paterson. I don't like the look of those match-ups.

  • Comment number 41.

    The game drove me to distraction….

    If I was an Ireland supporter I’d be going frantic about the way that they’re conceding penalties; they lost a game to France that they should have won on goal kicks and could easily have lost or drawn another one in the same way yesterday. Frankly conceding three tries to nil is a pretty fair hammering and the fact that Scotland nearly got out of gaol thanks to a lopsided penalty count doesn’t really resolve the basic questions which the Scotland team is currently failing to answer.

    Robinson having a whinge about the ref isn’t doing Scotland any favours. OK, Owen (whom I normally feel is one of the better refs on the circuit, admittedly out of a poor bunch) didn’t have a great game. Ireland gave away a lot of penalties, but most of them were around the ten metre line (oddly enough at the very edge of Chris Paterson’s range….). You don’t see many yellow cards for offences that far away from the try line, even if one might suspect that the Irish were cynically offending in territory where they might not be punished too much (why on earth were none of the penalties stuck into the corner given that the line out looked one place where Scotland might do some damage?). As far as the card on Jacobsen was concerned, I suspect he’d simply worn out the ref’s patience with his endless questioning of decisions- I caught the ref saying at one point in the first half that if Jacobsen didn’t pipe down he’d reverse a penalty he’d just awarded to Scotland.

    I don’t blame Robinson for going with Jackson- after all it was what the vast majority of posters here were calling for last week- but he really needed a lot more on-field support from more senior players (particularly his half back partner) when things got tough (i.e. telling him to get the *****ing ball off the park when Scotland were down to 14 rather than kicking high balls for the Irish wingers to run back). I think he has to start for the next two games- he’s not going to improve sitting on the bench and it’s just too late to look at other options pre-World Cup. Parks was his usual self when he came on- dropping a goal rather than going through the phases when Scotland had a penalty in the bank.

    I’ve always been a Mike Blair supporter but he’s miles from the player he was a couple of seasons ago. Lamont did his best out of position but it was always going to be a hell of a gamble to field a 10-12-13 combination who have never played together and so it proved. It might have been better to play Max Evans at 13 and have Danielli on the wing (not that I’m a huge fan of him but he’s probably better than de Luca at 13). The forwards looked seriously short of oomph at times and Ford in particular had a stinker.

    I can’t say I’m looking forward to Twickenham with any great expectation- I could awfully easily imagine England putting fifty points on Scotland on current form. No doubt the players will raise themselves for England- which in many ways would add to my irritation because it would just appear to confirm a number of negative stereotypes about Scotland and Scots. I’m still confidently expecting a wooden spoon shoot out with Italy on 19 March- just as well they don’t travel any better than Scotland.

  • Comment number 42.

    Cant say I would fancy AR's job with such inconsistent performances from some of the players! However....

    I thought Blair was good (not his best though), Lawson looked very good when he came on.

    Ford needs to step up, Scott Lawson was a good replacement but even though he is a family friend, Ford is better when he plays well.

    Sending off Jacobson was appalling.

    Barclay has had better games. Beattie Junior was good but a little rusty, fully unerstandable. Keep the 3 B's in for the next game, they are the best we have.

    Was a pity Jackson was a bit nervy, there is a good player in there. Parks was suddenly a lot better when he came on, keep Jackson in for starting next game though.

    Lamont was good, don't get why people think he is ONLY a winger and that's it? The problem with him on the wing is he is to slow o the blocks, great with a run up but he never got any ball out there. A Lamont/Ansbro centre could work, both are strong and quick.

    Evans played well, he always tries to create something. Just a frustration with the break when he didn't look left.

    Walker was good in France, but I think Danielli looked better when he came on. He is strong and runs well. Maybe make that change for Twickenham?

    What happened to the defense? Scotland used to have a very tough defense that could win games just by bashing players back. What has gone wrong?

  • Comment number 43.

    Well i'm bitterly disappointed but refuse to get too upset. We've just got to stay positive and hope things improve. We need to score some tries and cut out the mistakes. I won't message again as i feel you can over analyse things to death. All I will say before I go is i'm amazed De Luca gets in the team as time and time again he performs poorly. Ansbro and Lamont for centre. Don't think Jackson had the best game but give the lad a second chance, Parks is good to have coming off the bench to calm things down. Worth giving Jackson some experience before the world cup as he could be the future. I'm at the Italy game and regardless of past results i'll be cheering loudly. Come on Scotland please have a good finish to the tournament, 2 wins from 2 games, would still be better than previous 6 Nations results!

  • Comment number 44.

    I blame Eddie Butler - every year he professes to a sneaking feeling that 'something is stirring in Scotland' and that we will be 'this year's surprise package'. And every year we fail to stir or be a surprise package...

    On a serious note - I agree with JB that Blair had a good game. He hasn't played that well in a long-time. There was an Armstrong-esque cover tackle on Fitzgerald when it looked like he was away and a couple of lovely wee sniping runs which got us moving forward purposefully. Gray was typically robust and Kelly Brown showed up well. Lamont was good; De Luca wasn't.

    Barclay has had a few poor games but we shouldn't write him off. Class is permanent and all that and we have seen enough from him to know he is class.

    Sad to say but I think Kellock has managed to avoid some criticism. He obviously failed to rouse the troops against Wales and was anonymous yesterday. Decent guy that he obvioulsy is I think he might be a bit of a Steve Borthwick and we should look elsewhere. I'd give the captaincy to Barclay and plan more long-term.

  • Comment number 45.

    What happened to the defense? Scotland used to have a very tough defense that could win games just by bashing players back. What has gone wrong?

    De Luca is what happened, if he steps out of the line. The other then have no confidence in him. I thought Lamont was going to lamp him after the first try.

    Ansbro into inside and Lamont on the outside would be my preference but would be happy the other was round.
    I am very afraid for our chances against the English if we lose a quick try it could be very very embarrassing.

  • Comment number 46.

    Well, we gave away another daft try early on and only seemed to rally when the game was beyond us. Why oh why can't we rally from the start? We only seem to play with hope when it's all but lost.

    It's obvious from some players form that they really shouldn't be in the starting team against England on merit. I do favour as much continuity as possible, but another 2 or 3 brave changes are required.

    Possibly our best tactic against England would be to come flying out of the blocks at them with all guns blazing. That's the last thing they'd be expecting and it could really unsettle them. We've nothing to lose in that respect, other than another early try, which would doubtlessly happen anyway if we let them call the opening shots.

    Regarding this inability to score tries. All of the backs score regularly for their clubs, so it has to be some kind of bizarre mental block for Scotland. Plus I do think Toonie is long overdue a serious grilling in the limelight.

    Mind you, the other five nations have plenty of forwards getting on the scoresheet too. 5 yards out we can barely find our own derrieres without a map, let alone the final big push over the line. I'd have thought the training ground would have set that one to rights yonks ago.... the ten best ways to crack an opposition defence when you're 5 yards out. Call the best of the ten for what you see going on around you and just do it.

    All said and done, we're pretty much trundling along the same as we've always done like #34 said. It's not easy being a Scottish rugby fan. At least we got FoS right this time and our supporters were a bit noisier.

  • Comment number 47.

    Don’t let it get me down Mr Beattie, I have been supporting Scottish rugby for just a little bit longer than you, but how long do I have to suffer ? You say that if Scotland had played for 80 mins the way they did in the last 30 they would have won. But would they have scored a try ?
    Scotland seem at best to have a self destruct button, or at worst a desire to make things as difficult for themselves as possible. Poor communication in defence, kicking away possession when down to 14 men, inability to make a simple touch from a penalty, and the gross stupidity of shortening an efficient and successful lineout just when you need another of the same. I found all of this frustrating and is surely down to poor decision making amongst the key players, and Captain in particular.
    However even if Andy Robinson ( who is undoubtedly a coach of the highest quality ) is able to purge the team of these simple mistakeshis team will continue to struggle to score tries and ask questions of the opposition, unless they adopt a different approach to the contact. In simple terms they hardly ever attempt to move the defender, thereby creating the space for linear support. They appear happy to ruck, after ruck, until it is turned over, or box kicked back to the opposition , rather than keep the ball off the ground move the defender and pass out of the tackle. It is the only way to break the gain line with well organised defences. England are doing it, the Blacks have done it for years, it is time Scotland caught up or at least caught on.

  • Comment number 48.

    This current English team looks very sharp and I dont see anything but an english victory. They have more strenght in depth(Wilkinson on for Flood!!) and actualy score try's unlike Scotland. Attempting just to kick would be suicidal as England have only missed one attempt at goal in 3 matches.

  • Comment number 49.

    Regarding our fly half situation. I think Parks should start at 10 and stay on for the full game if it's a tight one. He should only come off if he's having a stinker, which I don't expect he will. Or if we're getting a hiding with 20 odd minutes to go then Jackson should come on as part of his maturing process.

    I thought Parks looked hungrier and sharper again when he came on. Jackson did okay. We'll see more and better of him in due course.

    I've only seen Weir play three times. He played excellently in the first two, but had a very poor game against The Dragons. He could well blossom in to a better player than Jackson eventually, but it's still early yet. That's a nice wee contest to have brewing.

    As for the ref and foul play and whatnot. Bah! The Irish were more streetwise than us. Plain and simple. If we beat the English in a tight game by being more streetwise than them, then we'd be dancing on the ceiling about it! Except we won't because it's another facet of our game which has been well off the competitive pace for far too long.

  • Comment number 50.

    once again a frustrating afternoon for any scottish rugby fan. my belief towards the lack of tries coming from the team is much to do with the lack of support runners for the ball carrier. for example the not given english try for ashton on saturday was as a result of forward pass yes but ben youngs had support either side of him as did flood and even ashton did aswell! without that much lacking support the line break leads to nothing more than an off form paul o connel singlehandedly pushing 3 scottsish forwards off the ball!
    an awful lot can be made of the penalty count by the irish but not once was it properly punished, the scottish lineout was proving to be successful, when they got it sorted and werent wasting opportunites close to the irish line with 3 man lineouts in the dying moments! why was it not used more, dan parks has often been given the same accusations of ronan o gara but you cant put a price on being in the right areas of the pitch with a consistently perfroming scottish line out. on several occasions the outsatanding richie gray stole the ball from the irish in the lineout but he only seemed to be given this opportunity in our own 22 - pointless waste of an opportunity.
    the timing of jacksons start was a poor one, surely bring him on for the last 20 minutes when we have some sort of hope in winning the game surely his confidence will be more improved by helping a team win as aopposed to leading the team to a loss.

  • Comment number 51.

    Re. 48.


    You could easily argue that the French have more strength in depth than the English and score tries but England still beat them!?!

    Please explain your idiotic analysis. There is more to rugby than stats! That’s why it is such a beautiful game!

    (not that I’m saying Scotland will win, just that your justification is a pointless waste of words!)

  • Comment number 52.

    I have been a passionate Scotland rugby supporter for many years and I genuinely thought that we had turned a corner last year but it seems not.

    Looking to the England game i think we do have a chance (albeit very slim)if we play for the full 80. Its been said before. I actually think much of Scotland problem is psycological, we need to get some of our confidence back and believe in ourselves, an unlikely win against England would make a huge difference. I think a good start would be to get Nikki Walker out of the team, I have never rated him, he looks like a second row out on the wing and lacks skills. I think Danielli/Paterson is a better option. Never thought I would say this but we are missing Graham Morrison who provided some stability in the centre and was developing his ofloading game nicely. I think I would start Jackson again with Blair and if Morrisons not fit, keep S Lamont at centre perhaps with Ansbro although De Luca did ok at the weekend. Full back I would probably keep the experience of Paterson but would be tempted to bring in Rory Lamont and move Paterson to wing. I would also be tempted to give Cuthbert a crack but perhaps not aginst England at Twickenham.

    The forwards should be given another go with perhaps Vernon coming in to replace Barclay who seems to be struggling a bit at the moment perhaps with an injury.

    These are tough days for Scottish rugby. All the best to the team against England, nothing would make me happier than Scotland silencing the English crowd - there is always hope!!

  • Comment number 53.

    The flaw in the Scotland game is not the amount of mistakes they hark on about but the style of game they play. Popping the ball from ruck to ruck for the biggest lump to crash up is a style used 10-15 years ago (when players were smaller) and is not a legitimate form of attacking paly in todays test match arena. Watch Super Rugby week in week out and you have players holding depth and running lines inside and outside the ball carrier (who has the ball in both hands), this, along with dummy runners and you have an attacking style that causes defences problems.
    The root problem with the average Scotland rugby player lies in the fact that they are not rugby intelligent. This is a problem that needs to be addressed at grass roots. From the results of our under 20's so far it looks like the next generation is on the same path as our seniors.

    My solution - take the best 18 - 21 year olds in our age grade set up and send them on a two season trip to France, NZ, OZ etc.

  • Comment number 54.

    #50 I liked reading your post. Jackson is still learning how to start and shape an international game. We wouldn't want to fully trust him yet to close one out in a tight game when he's come on cold with only 20 odd minutes to play. His time for that full responsibility is approaching, mind you.

    RoG gave a masterclass in game management on Sunday. Jackson will have learned some useful tricks from that. And if Jackson wants to be a regular starter than he absolutely must be mentally tough enough to take a string of losses in his stride and stay upbeat.

    I couldn't fault Godman for giving his best in his own way, but his mental frailties at the very top level concerned me. Hopefully Jackson will prove to be made of sterner stuff than that.

  • Comment number 55.

    There's been a lt of comment on this blog whinging about us losing to "average" teams; of course we lose to 'average' teams because we are below average - in the context of the Six Nations. On the basis of the Autumn Internationals, we thought we were better than Wales, but when we Tested ourselves against them, we found we were not - what evidence did we ever have that we were better than Ireland or France? At Twickenham, we will go all-out to beat a better team at their home stadium and we have a chance at that, but it will be a triumph of tremendous proportions; and then we have Italy, who are, in honesty, our peers in the Six Nations, with Wales.

    At the end of the day, it is not just down to Andy Robinson and his team; I cannot persuade my son to play rugby (or soccer, come to that) so I do not feel that I am able to do my bit for our World Cup Glory - Mr Robinson can only work with the boys that we give him


  • Comment number 56.

    I've had some sleep, done three sets of weights, and some sprints, it's a nice day, and I feel good. SO, FROM THE TOP

    Lee Ross - I think Scottish fans go to Murrayfield with a sense of foreboding. We don't grow up arrogant, we grow up reticent. The crowd waits to be excited by the players rather than the other way around. Got behind the team second half, neighbour of mine thought atmosphere late on was great.

    EcossDave, that's exactly it, a bit of a fall after seeing progress

    Steve - I've looked through your previous posts and you don't rate Scotland. I'm Scottish and proud to be.

    Philip - Scotland are the underdogs by such a margin that I think England will be, possibly, rightly very confident.

    captaincarrantuohil - Ah, I remember that Italian win

    KarlWBrown - You might be right, but I hope you are wrong.

    7David Morgan - Yup, we aren't scoring tries. Three against France.

    8Richy17 RICHY - don't get me down!

    10 Alex - lack of confidence, but got better later in game

    11 randomscotsman - I know I am not the world's best journalist, but I thought I would come in and write it last night. It does get me down. Was up at half three in the morning trying to analyse the thing.

    13 - Max, skills are the most important aspect of rugby.

    14 Scotofthelethargic - Don't get down! You'll start me off again!

    15 convertedfootballer - next time listen to BBC Radio Scotland and you may hear me what Peter Wright.

    16 pogmothoin - Aw, come on.

    17 - tallshort - Ooooh, I hope so

    19 AdamWBF - the English crowd will treat him with respect and the Scottish players will be jumping out thier skins to help him

    20 SimonH - I know what you mean, but they did beat Argentina twice away from home and then South Africa at home so there was a belief....

    21 NevilleReilly - I miss it too, but we have to train the lot we have properly and ensure they do as well as they can. The day we accept that we can't be as good as anyone else is the day we should just shut up shop and put out the lights, which we must never do

    22 - I agree with much of what you say, it was a chance to lay down a marker and they started off timidly

    23 Mikeathers - it is the law of averages...

    I NEED A REST - will get back to the others later

  • Comment number 57.

    Sorry just read your post don't follow what you said regarding me. Were you saying you and Peter said the same thing?

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry JOHN just read your post don't follow what you said regarding me. Were you saying you and Peter said the same thing?

  • Comment number 59.

    I noticed an article in the Scotsman by Willie John McBride at the weekend and a large section of it was his dismay about the game in general at present. He had a go at the law makers and how they are destroying the game. He wishes to see the rucking back in the game.

    Please, please, please bring back rucking into the game. They are big boys they can cope with it. The majority of the penalties conceeded by Ireland (and I don't blame them) would be solved if 2 or 3 forwards were allowed legally as was the case a few years ago to give the offending player a right good shoeing. Not on his head or sensitive areas obviously but legs, hands and body. It would at the stoke of a boot speed up the breakdown and stop the ref constantly shouting "release, move away...away...move...
    I remember one game at murrayfield where Richard Hill was on the wrong side killing the ball with his body (fantastic player) and got abosolutly raked by 3 forwards and Bryan Redpath I think. His shirt was torn to bits and his back looked like Freddy Kruger had taken a swipe. Jonathan Davies on the commentary said "he was on the wrong side and he gets it, and deservedly so". From that moment on not one English player put any part of their body anywhere near the ball in the ruck. What the ref do? Awarded Scotland a penalty for Hill killing the ball. As it should be now. How many times now have we seen a scrum half dig 4 or 5 times for the ball with his hands before it comes out and all the momentum is lost. Before one boot was enough from the scrum half to free it and the ball was away. Sometimes he even rucked his own player it it wasn't coming out. Now he puts his hands up in the air and pleads to the ref.

    Please bring it back. Especially for Scotland. Alongside New Zealand, Scotland were for years the best rucking side in the world. We had to be to compete. Quick rucked ball is where Scotland used to excell. I fear that we will never truely compete again unless it comes back. We are as a nation or people smaller by average than the English, French, South Africans etc. Rucking is a great leveller.

  • Comment number 60.

    You don't expect to see many wins supporting Scotland but I do like to see passion and a degree of consistency from the team. There are obvious limitations with the current team - the obvious being that we lack any player that is either capable of routinely penetrating the opposing line at test level or generates even a slither of fear for the opposition (couldn't score a try against 13-men Wales???). However, we were a very good defensive unit that provided the basis from which good wins could come (e.g. Australia 2009, Argentina 2010 x2, S.Africa 2010). The tries scored against France were obviously a false dawn and it appears as though the team are trying to recapture that try scoring ability at the expense of a credible defence. The tries scored by Wales and Ireland against Scotland were hardly contested. The worrying aspect of the current Scotland squad is that for every Australia and S.Africa there is a NZ and Wales waiting. We don't have a convincing attack at present; our gameplan can only be based on a tight defence and hope for the best at the other end. That will surely have to be the case at Twickenham in a fortnight?

  • Comment number 61.

    Hi John,

    I want to reference a few posts i made on the following blog...

    If i may bring your attention to posts 25, 50, and most appropriately 59.

    You will see that i tried my best to help you Scots out, i wasn't making my points out of anger at what was a poor performance by Ireland ('10) but more in an attempt to thwart off what has inevitably happened here...

    In an effort to alleviate your low mood I suggest you cast your eyes over these posts retrospectively and come to the realisation that what happened here with your mental well-being was inevitable. It may give you some closure.

    I also want to suggest that in analysis, this was not a game that Scotland could've won, but one that Ireland could've (and tried their best to) lost.

    For all those still clinging to the idea that Scotland should've won and Ireland should've had a player sinbinned please re-watch the game without the blind passion that comes with the territory of watching the match live and i think you might change your tune.

    Love and respect as always John.


  • Comment number 62.

    i feel we lack of rugby nous, sometimes i think we are just too nice and honest, and also there is no confidence

    1) the first try, where were the forwards at the fringes?

    2) the second try, an all black move done at snails pace, as soon as the tighthead irish wheel we were screaming for junior to detach and protect the left side. why did he stay down, the irish knew what they were doing, holding onto blair until he was in no mans land

    3) our support lines dont exist, how many times previously have we seen a break away and the ball carrier becomes isolated, when we played the AB's, their try scorer's were accompanied by 2 or 3 other players. we dont believe the ball carrier can break the gain line or off load, so we never run a supporting line


    4) max evans has to think about passing the ball


    5) what is the backs coach doing, we have no 30 meter moves and who tells our stand off to stand so deep, is it gregor townsend, or are the players doing it on their own accord

    6) at what stage in the development of our international players do they learn to pass the ball to the man rather than in front, run the vt and count the number of times a receiver catches the ball virtually standing still

  • Comment number 63.

    John - I'm also feeling a little down form recent results. Perhaps it's this that has got me to thinking of what might appear to be a radical solution, but here goes...why not bring in Rob Moffat to the coaching set up to work on basic skills and attack moves. Edinburgh did very well when he was Andy's No. 2, and while his selection policy towards the end of his tenure at Edinburgh verged on insane, I think he's a proven record in working with a good head coach to develop an attacking team.

    With regards to the England game I'm a little worried that Ashton will score at will. Have our defensive frailties of late come from playing people out of position? I think this might be a factor. The first try by Ireland on Sunday was down to De Luca rushing to help Lamont, perhaps someone who played 13 week in week out would have held the line. In the Wales game Lamont was playing full back but for the Shane Williams try he was up in the defensive line like a winger - where as you know he normally plays, and his positioning contributed to that try. Under pressure and in the intensity of a game situation 99.9% of players will revert to how the play most often and that means playing guys out of position carries in particular defensive risks.

    Another factor which is not helping us is that we have to release our exile players back to their clubs mid 6 Nations and they pick up niggles or get out-right injured. This disrupts continuity of selection and further limits our options with an already small player pool. So what do the SRU do - they freeze which in effect means a reduction to the money for the two Scottish pro teams, which means our best players will leave Scotland, partnerships will be broken up, interest in the game will fall and our selection for international games will be hampered by the player release policies of other leagues!

    Rant over ...felling better now.

  • Comment number 64.

    The awful display yesterday was cringe-worthy at best. I think Andy Robinson must be sick of using his now stock phrases when being interviewed afterwards. "Commitment, effort" blah blah blah.
    We see that in every game. What we need (like the Italians seem to be learning to do a bit at a time) is now combine the work ethic with "Skill, pace, tactical nous".
    We are fast becoming the alternative Italy-and I am pleased for them that they definitely are making progress, as I think they have added so much to the tournament. Scotland, on the other hand have become the points banker for the other teams.
    The reason we don't score tries? Easy-we aren't good enough, we don't even look like scoring tries, and we are being left behind the other teams quicker than we all feared.
    Well done Ireland, good effort Italy-YOU are improving, and England-please be gentle on us! (We have a wooden spoon decider to go for).

    John-yes the team scored 3 tries against France, which was fantastic! Now look at the tournament table, read the "points against" column, then the "points total" (BIG FAT ZERO) and I think that's more like the reality of where we are as a rugby nation.
    For goodness sake, this 5 Nation's was to prepare us for the World Cup, and to see how far we've come since Andy Robinson took over. I'll tell you how far-almost backwards. I blame the players. they have the best coach avaiable, great facilities, a damn good wage etc etc etc, but can they catch a ball. or pass it, or run with it, off-load it, or just cross the try line with it on a consistent basis? No, they can't.
    I've wasted too much hard-earned cash watching this lot, I won't be wasting anymore.

  • Comment number 65.

    Sorry-I meant 6 Nations-angry finger onkeyboard.

  • Comment number 66.

    Convertedfootballer, I was just having a laugh about how you should be istening to radio rather than reflink and the you might hear me whack Peter Wright. A mis-spell. Lots of things going wrong.

  • Comment number 67.

    Scotland were slow to start against Ireland and the tackling wasn't great in the first half. The game was for the taking in the second half when Scotland picked up the pace, ran onto the ball and off loaded in the tackle. The Irish did a good job of slowing down the ruck ball.

    I think it will be pretty tough against a very confident England. I concur with
    #14 Where is the team that played France only 4 weeks ago?!?
    We seem to have lost confidence in our abilities. Is it a lot in the mind? If the players relax rather than tense and force play we might do better.

    # 16 For Scotland to score a try, however, the entire Irish XV would have had to be sent off. - Think this is rather harsh. Ireland are mediocre as are Wales and have been fortunate to win but I wouldn't be happy with the performance to get the wins.

    Keep at it Scotland; it will come together; be a bit more streetwise and less of a rabbit caught in the headlights!

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi John

    I (we) are regulars at Murrayfield, we always go with positive thoughts and hope rather than expectation and ALWAYS stay until the bitter end to applaude the team off - but I am by no means an expert! This is my first ever post with my limited observations.

    One thing that strikes me though from the stands is that Scotland seem very one dimensional and predictable, we go from side to side and progress slowly forward - but when Ireland got the ball it was much quicker and much less predictable. Scotland appear just to rely on Irish mistakes.

    Parks' kicking to the corners livened things up but that seems to be his "trick" - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't (i.e. against Wales).

    One last thing I'm struggling to understand, why go for a drop goal when pushing for a try (and getting it!) would have given us the lead?? I accept that keeping the scoreboard ticking over is important but with approx 5 mins left? Surely time to go for broke.

    I won't complain too much as I reckon we were lucky to still be in the game at half time so the exciting finish was much more than I expected, and we will turn up to the Italy game confident the team will finish with a flourish.

  • Comment number 69.

    @Simon H #20 - Our win over South Africa was a fine one but they didn't appear to be that tired when they faced England a week later

  • Comment number 70.

    Can anyone explain to me why, with Scotland dominating the lineout and even stealing Ireland's throw in's why they cut the lineout to 3 on the throw in with 2-3 mins left on Ireland's 22? Still can't work that one out?!?!

    As for Scotland - I love my rugby coming from Scottish rugby's old heartland, I still watch and always will do, but I am getting tired of giving teams an easy lead only for us to dig deep to the end and make a game of it once we've lost already?
    Being valiant losers is becoming boring....

    As for England - I expect the same old story. As normal it will be between Scotland and Italy for the wooden spoon.

    We are a small nation, but we have a higer population than Wales, Ireland and NZ, but we only have 2 pro teams. Wales 4, Ireland 4, and NZ 5.

    So until that changes - if it ever does we are always going to be limited and punch above our weight once in a while. We might just have to accept it.

  • Comment number 71.

    Dear John,
    Me again...maybe if i put this quote in it will encourage you to review my posts this time last year...

    "...I'm just trying to help you out lads, you will thank me next year when your level of expectations are at a more reasonable level meaning the level of depression and the state of your mental health is much improved following another poor finish in the 6 nations.

    This seems to be an episode of Mania that i shall forgive you for, just couldn't handle the Guinness in Dublin i guess.

    Kind regards


    You may want to address me as Nostrathomas from now on.

    Kind regards


  • Comment number 72.

    @70 -Can anyone explain to me why, with Scotland dominating the lineout and even stealing Ireland's throw in's why they cut the lineout to 3 on the throw in with 2-3 mins left on Ireland's 22? Still can't work that one out?!?!

    > Equally, at home with Wales down to 13 men, why take 3 points rather than kick to 5 metres for an attacking line-out and BE PATIENT to go for 7 points ?

    There seems to be poor decision making by individual players and poor captaincy decisions I'm afraid.

    We played some good rugby in the last 30 mins, but it was too far away from the Irish danger area. And yes, the Irish penalties were cynical but they got away with it. If we had done the same there would be few complaints as unfortunately that is how the pro game has gone...

  • Comment number 73.

    Once again Scotland have failed to deliver at the time of asking and they have let thier many fans down again, I'm not sure what game John Beattie is blogging about but its not the one I watched. The Scottish backs are naeve, thier passing is telegraphed and but for of the occasional glimpse of individual skill from Evans and Lamont they never look dangerous or incisive. We clearly have a problem in the midfield and its about time someone realises that De Luca is not an international rugby player. I feel sorry for Andy Robinson, he has a passion for the game its a great pity that so many of our overly pampered professionals do not share that same passion or commitment

  • Comment number 74.

    So Mike Blair was impressive was he? Why would you say that? I wasn't at all impressed by his running towards the receiver instead of passing the ball, dummying that receiver instead of passing the ball and, when he did pass it, the defence were much closer to that receiver. Edinburgh played well in his absence last season. He;s back this season and they're not playing so well.

    How long does De Luca get to show his potential? Does he, in fact, have any potential or is he playing as well as he ever does? He certainly hasn't captured my attention for anything positive for a long, long time and you cannot blame his defensive failings on the coach.

    Max Evans does not know when to pass. When is he likely to learn this basic skill? I would rather his education took place where turnover ball is less ruthlessly exploited.

    I didn't see any excuse for the encouragement claimed by Gregor Townsend on Twitter. Our pack are not as effective as they were, there is no leadership on the pitch and Robinson's selection was poor. We need centres playing at centre and wingers on the wing. We need a hooker who can be bothered to do something and we need someone like Jason White or Alistair Strokosch to fold one of their opponents in tow with a "firm" tackle.

    No inspiration, no leadership, no improvement.

  • Comment number 75.

    Again we were slow out the blocks, lacked desire, basic tactical skills and nous. Error strewn. If Ireland hadn't been so generous with penalties we'd have been demolished and righly so. Last 20 minutes showed commitment and resolve but sadly no finesse.
    Oddly I think we might beat England - is that my heart? - well WE WILL PLAY WITH PASSION START TO FINISH. I thought at start Season we were promising and gelling but loss of G Dog, your Johnnie shows no depth at 12, 8 or indeed 2 - Ford only real choice but throwing was awful.
    GRAY -what a player, BROWN gives everything, Parks changed things around.
    Jackson wrong to be blooded in this one with novice centre pairing. Selection cost us dear and unfair on JB Jnr. and Jackson. Ansbro will be back, I'd like Laidlaw Scrum half. Centre pairing Ansbro,Evans - wings Lamonts or one at full back Paterson on wing - still got it.
    Need to put SCRUM back to 20 years - destroying the game as it stands.
    Stevie Scott missed as hooker coach - Robinson has the passion and knowledge but needs more from his cohorts - funding would not go amiss to keep the players in Scotland but our skills have not grown with professionalism sadly.

  • Comment number 76.

    As a Welshman, can I ask you to just hang on in there. As ROG said aterwards it's a game of fine margins. Nigel Owens should have yellow carded an Irish player after thr Parks drop goal. He'd given the warning, was penalising foul play which was followed by the DG and then should have gone back to card the culprit.

    I don't think England are that much better then anyone else in the competition and whilst they are playing very well they are not yet home and dry. For Scotland it's about forgetting about the result and putting in a performance. Edinburgh is still best away trip in tournament! Good luck!

  • Comment number 77.

    Where to start? I feel that in its own way this performance was even worse than that against the Welsh. After such an abject performance you expect some form of reaction from the team, however all we got was more of the same: Dropped balls, loose passes, Mike Blair scuttling 4-5 yards before passing, no evidence of any passion or fight (Sean Lamont and Richie Gray excused), and a game plan that seemed to suggest play everything from everywhere, with no thought of building pressure by playing in the right areas of the pitch, we are not a team that can score from our own 22, in fact, it looked as if we could have played all day and not scored.

    And here in lies the well documented rub, we are incapable of scoring tries on a consistent basis. It really is pathetic that a group of professional athletes can find the whole point of the game, which they earn a living from, so difficult. You can talk all day about why this may be, and I'm sure some of the reasons do contribute to the general malaise: Gregor Townsend having no previous coaching experience, lack of confidence, trying to play too much rugby in the wrong areas of the pitch etc etc; the harsh fact is that the players we have are simply not good enough. End Off. Dan Parks is never going to be a game breaking fly half, Ruaridh Jackson looks flaky both at Magners League and international level and the centre cupboard is well and truly bare. ( As soon as you see Sean Lamont playing an international match at inside centre you know your in trouble, not that he played badly, but he is only ever going to do one thing – crash it up.)

    I realise that this post is very negative, but from my position its difficult to see where the tries are going to come from. Up to and including the world cup I hope we revert back to Dan Parks getting us playing in the right areas of the field , putting pressure on the opposition line out, harrying for everything and kicking our penalties, we simply don’t have the players to do otherwise. Following the world cup, and starting now, we need to look at how we develop the next generation of young players (Johns favourite topic – Summer rugby??) - and hope that guys like Duncan Weir, Stuart Hogg, Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett, coming though the ranks, have the vision and skill to play the way we all want to see Scotland play, Scoring tries and winning.

  • Comment number 78.

    I've just looked at video footage of Dan Parks' drop goal. I believe he took the right option. A full ten minutes left, he kept the scoreboard ticking over and closed the gap to only 3 points when Scotland were starting to build up a head of steam.

    That really gave us everything to fight for with a full ten minutes left.

    Every Scottish back was outside the Irish 22. The Irish were well lined up and organised in midfield and also out wide on their left wing where they had strength in numbers. Scotland running it from there was most likely going to result in zero points after chewing up more precious time.

    As an ex-fly half I reluctantly slagged off Parks for the first time in my entire life last week. I believe that he is a bit more potent overall than Jackson at the moment and should start against England.

  • Comment number 79.

    Didn't manage to get to the game but read some reports before I watched the whole game expecting to see the same display as against Wales. I would suggest that Scotland should have won this game but lacked the belief in themselves to play the right ball at the right time. Whilst there is a lack of cutting edge there there was some movement in a forward direction but we lacked support play, offloading at the correct time and quit often a cr*p defense. Mr Ashton in the English team seems to always be in the right place at the right time to provide support. The players making the break do look like startled rabbits (ooh - was that me making that break) and are usually undone by complete lack of support players around them or missing the obvious. The English game worries me. Jackson was good, Parks looked like he had a point to prove, Lamont was good, De Luca should be dropped, get Grove in. Scrum halves we seem to have plenty but none of them seem to want to boss the game. We aren't very street wise but the Irish were and suspect England will be as well. Referee was pretty dire I would say - some obvious misses (knock on, forward passes and lots of shenanigans in the scrum and then selective memory after the drop goal in not carding an Irish player - suspect it was a case of ah well they've got three points and we're nearly at the end of the game. Scotland's decision making was not good at key points in the match and that ultimately lost us the game.

    I think it's been said before but international rugby is most definitely a game of inches and fine margins. A lateral pass maybe allowed one minute and the next not.

    For next game .....Jackson on first then Parks. De Luca dropped to the U12s. Get the killer B's operating again. Get the second rows to put some bite in the scrum and the front row to operate as a unit. They did it against SA, Australia and Argentina (twice and a way from home) so they can do it.

  • Comment number 80.

    If Scotland don't sort out the positioning of the backline when defending there will be a tryfest in London. England are a very good team, they beat the french even when they were making uncharacteristic errors. Probably their best player, Flood didn't have a good game, but other players stepped up to the challenge. This is the mark of a top quality team. They are good to watch.

    There are a number of issues to address:

    2 - Ross Ford does not merit a place in the team. He does not fulfill the requirements of his position (lines or scrums) - OUT. Replace him with someone that wants to play and can throw straight.

    4 - Kellock has not been able to lead effectively. His position should be sacrificed for Hamilton, who makes a true difference when he plays.

    7 - Barclay is not up to it at the moment. Without closing the door to him if he gets his act together, Strokosh would add some fight to the cause.

    9 - Blair is the best option, don't let Lawson set the tone of the game by starting him (he is not shocking for the last 20, but is a liability for the first) - give Laidlaw some experience from the bench if you feel courageous.

    10 - Stick with Jackson and let Parks come on if we need him to slow things down.

    12/13 - Morrison has been the biggest miss of the season. Lamont should not be played here as it wastes his talents. Got to be Grove in there with Evans or Ansbro (if available)

    11/14 - Lamont, Danielli (or Evans if Ansbro is there)

    15 - Lamont (or Mossy if we need him, but just hope they don't play the high ball)

    It is not fair to put De Luca in this scenario.

    What do you think?

  • Comment number 81.

    Whilst Im usually a half glass full Scotland fan, you cant escape the fact that we dont score tries. Because of this, we are always likely to have this feeling that we played well but just fell short (the Wales game aside). If you think of the apparent progress over the past 12 months or so, so many of our good results have been pretty marginal, and therefore if we dont get the decisions, luck or faultless performance then this will keep on happening.

    We need to play to our strengths - our back row. Why the fixation with expansive attractice rugby? Keep it simple - use Parks's kicking game to get field position and rely on our lineout. I cant believe after a great run, then one bad game against Wales, Parks was dropped. Jackson may well develop into a good stand off, but he was trying to play a Parks-style kicking game, and Im afraid Parks is better. Im sorry, but 2 woeful up and unders when we were down to 14 men is just shocking decision making.

    So Mr Robinson: keep the faith, ignore media pressure, and play to our strengths. And when we get a wobbly game, dont hit the panic button. Everyone else: keep the perspective.

  • Comment number 82.

    I think the team needs a father figure on the field with them: Someone who will scare the bejesus into the opposition; put a rocket up our boys when they need it and calm them down when they need it too. A fella that the opposition will do a double take when he walks into their dressing room pre-match and think 'bloody hell, we're playing against monsters here'. The opposition will fling everything at him and he'll smile and just keep running at them making those around him want to follow him. Kellock may become that fella but he's getting on now. Richie Gray in a few years is another good possibility from what I'm seeing. Dan Parks and Chris Cussiter is not that man.

  • Comment number 83.

    I thought Blair showed good fighting spirit and desire. The coaches having a wee word with him about a couple of things should get even more out of his game. Lawson did okay when he came on, but Blair to start.

    Parks to start. He reacted to the benching like it was a decent wake up call for him. The coaches need to have a wee word with him too and I hope he listens.

    Lamont did superbly in his first ever game at 12, but he's altogether more potent out on the wing.

    At 12 we need our most experienced form player available whose strengths lie largely in defending and passing. Ansboro at 13. Evans on one wing and Schlong on the other. Mossy starting at 15.

    Fair play to the players, our backs have taken a hammering in recent times. Thom Evans gone when he was shaping up to be the best of his generation, such a cruel blow. Cusiter, Morrison and Ansboro out. Rory Lamont struggling with injuries again.

    I think Ford needs more fire in his belly. Bench him and let Lawson start. Stick with the other starting front five. Brown has been playing well in all three games so far. I believe Beattie should start as he offers just that wee bit more than Vernon at the moment. Unfortunately Barclay has looked right out of sorts for a while now. I admire him a lot, but I'd be sorely tempted to let someone else have a go for the English game.

    Still don't know about our 12 to be honest. What do the rest of you think? Surely it's obvious that De Luca isn't the strongest option?

  • Comment number 84.

    I can only agree. Let Grove get stuck in at 12.

  • Comment number 85.

    I love all the posters who are juggling with names and possible positions within this squad for the up and coming game against England!
    Two comments come to my "fed up with watching dross" mind:
    Do you honestly think ANY reshuffling will remotely bother England?
    You can swirl a bowl of goldfish around as much as you like-you still have the same fish! (Eric Cantona eat your heart out).

  • Comment number 86.

    Post 79
    I think dropping him to the u12 is a bit harsh perhaps u18 and see how he copes

    Seriously the only difference between the results lately and the wins against SA and in Ireland is our defence

    We never score tries, with the exception of France when did we last score 3 tries in a match

    But normally we are good at defending like the last 3 England matches at Murrayfield

    The first 2 tries for Ireland were a disgrace basic errors and who is to blame?

    The 3rd try and ROG had the confidence to side step Patterson in goal to go under the posts, says it all

    But the biggest thing for me is basic skills I am sick of seeing players jump to receive passes thus losing any momentum or picking a pass from their laces or knocking on with no pressure or squandering overlaps

    We must be the only major Test Nation that doesnt convert multiple phases in the opponents 22

    And as far as scaring England I don't think so and see a 5 try to 1 game

    And lastly £70 for the Ireland game where do you think our future support is coming from? certainly not from the people we need to attend

  • Comment number 87.

    I think that England are at the level of not being too bothered about any opposition. They are a great team and that they should receive the credit for taking the time (and losses) to put it together so well. England will hammer a poor team in the way that they destroyed Italy (who at the moment look better than us). However, if a poor team gets itself organised, it is still 15 versus 15 (just look at Wales who kept themselves in the game until the end). Scotland should go to London and give England a decent game, compete and defend hard. No-one is seriously expecting anything other than that. England play smashing rugby and if the right scottish team actually turns up, we might enjoy watching both sets of players.

  • Comment number 88.

    Unfortunately we're going to see the same outcome at Twickenham we always do - loads of spirit for the first 20 minutes, then the English juggernaut will over power us and they'll run in 4 or 5 tries. They're powerful and quick and have try scorers. We're not and we don't.

    Looking back at yesterday, and almost every other game Scotland underperform in, we see the same errors over and over again. We are not, and probably in the professional era never will be, a top class side. But there is NO EXCUSE for professional rugby players not to be able to do the basics, yet we turn over possession, throw in squint at line outs, have miscues on the line out codes, fail to gather kick offs, miss touch with penalties, screw up our defensive alignment and allow kick aheads to bounce.

    You don't have to be the All Blacks to get the basics right.

    We never looked like scoring yesterday except when Max Evans made a great break but then undid the good bit by cutting out when Paterson would have gone under the posts. But how many times did we attack and then end up chasing back to half way because of a turnover?

    I read that when Jackson was picked it would mean Scotland would attack the gain line but it didn't happen. We seemed to play a variation on the Parks tactics but if the plan was to kick as much as we did, surely Parks should have started? By all means let's play Jackson but to play his game not Parks'.

    Can't agree Sean Lamont was outstanding - he ran hard and straight but a la Jamie Roberts he simply goes into contact and to ground. When did he last pass the ball? But hey, something to work on. Get Ansboro alongside him and Danielli on the wing instead of the painfully slow Walker and we might have something - if we have a scrum half that can get the ball out without walking towards the fly half first.

    Then find a hooker who can throw (and tackle - pathetic effort from Ford on O'Gara) and let's give it a go.

    Next rant? Referees. We've now got a reputation as poor scrummagers so we're going to get pinged. I saw it with Euan Murray at Thomond Park for Northampton and it's carried on into the 6 Nations. Owens had a shocker yesterday though we didn't help oursleves - the other outcome of Parks' dropping a goal when he should have gone for the try knowing the penalty was coming is that Leamy would have been binned if we'd gone back for the penalty. Maybe we'd have done something against 14.

    It's just so disappointing when we came into the 6 Nations full of hope. Now a wooden spoon beckons and worse than that I'm still having to listen to the RTE panel telling me how awful Scotland are.

  • Comment number 89.

    I would have to disagree with your point that Mike Blair played well. I think that he needs to find quicker ball. Him constantly taking it out from behind the rucks and running 3-5 steps before passing was giving the Irish line extra time to come up on our backs. He did nothing special and needs dropped as he is not an on form player at the moment.

    The plus side I am taking away from that game, was that we did not have our first string 3/4s line on the park.

    Side note - Paterson once again showed he is too small for international rugby (except maybe a scrum half) and definitley too fragile in defence for a 15. If anyone else had been infront of O'Gara when he ran in his try he would have placed it down immediately, instead he bounced off Paterson's pathetic excuse for a tackle and scored under the posts. Paterson should start being a kicking coach, definitely retire from international rugby and we need to let some youth have a go at 15 with Edinburgh.

    Other side note - Townsend is not an international attacking coach, the SRU need to shell out and bring in a tried and tested attacks coach, the fact that Townsend is still on the coaching staff beggers belief!

  • Comment number 90.

    Why don't Scotland score tries? 6 pts down into the last ten minutes, penalty awarded, easy, easy kick so why, why, why, go for a drop goal!!? I was a free move, 3 points were in the bag anyway, so try for a try lads; it's were you cross the line and touch the ball down, who knows you could have even won the game, perish the thought. It should have been grubber kicked or chipped to the wing on the try line. This negative dull kicking game sums up Scotland for me - has done for years. I maybe an England fan but love a good rugby game, exciting end against Ireland but really pretty woeful tactics.

  • Comment number 91.

    #89. Mossy's boot kept us in touch and gave us hope. Something worth fighting for. That could come in very handy against England.

    Plus he had a decent running game against Ireland. He was seeing the gaps and running some useful lines. When he plays like that it's only a matter of time before a good break goes his way and/or he releases a support runner.

    Due to heaving weights like a horse during his rehab he's stronger than he's ever been. And it showed. He never turned the ball over once in contact, even when O'Connell was all over him like a rash.

    His massive experience, vision, rugby savvy and communication skills are of significant value in steadying the helm.

    Finally, listen up you RoG/Paterson eejits! RoG only had to touch down before contact with Paterson to secure a very, very easy conversion. The dumbest thing RoG did all game was risk contact with Paterson. Paterson chopping him down in his tracks was absolutely worthless at that point. It still would have been a ridiculously easy conversion. Paterson clocked that fine well.... which is exactly why he had his wits about him to have a go at dislodging the ball! He wasn't trying to tackle RoG at all. He was smart enough to specifically have a go at dislodging the ball!!! Watch the footage and apologise for taking a cheap shot at a living legend!

    Even Sir Chris of Gala isn't beyond criticism, but he played well. And he's still got a decent turn of pace. I'm just joking around a bit to prove my point guys. Nae offence, eh? But please, no slagging off his Royal Chrisness unless you can rightly hit the nail on the head.

  • Comment number 92.

    Several contributors have suggested that England may become complacent and can be ambushed. They've certainly showed an occasional propensity for contributing to their own downfall over the past decade, but just lately that seems not to have been the rampant problem which it was.

    Sure it's optimistic for Scotland to be eyeing a win against England as things stand right now. That's what it's all about, otherwise why get out of bed in the morning, after all. Take courage, Scotland: up and at 'em, and all that. You can't win if you don't have a go.

    If I had a word of advice, it would be not to fret too much about tries. Beggars can't be choosers. Take the points any way they come along: nobody will complain.

  • Comment number 93.

    not the best analysis of a Scottish performance you will find. Scotland to give England a 'fright'. What does that mean? They will lose i think when translated. I have never seen Scottish rucking so lame and body postions so high. As for the backs
    De Luca - has he ever played a good test? Evans energetic at best but missed an inside pass that the whole of Scotland was shouting at him to give. Blair - hardly frightening pace or delivery. Jackson and Parks , ordinary. Lamont gave it a go. We should beat Italy to avoid the wooden spoon but!

  • Comment number 94.

    Since Scotland can't score tries, we depend a lot on penalties, but also on a good defence. Although I don't rate him in attack, we are missing Morrison in the centre. De Luca is not the answer, he costs us every week. Ansbro is the find of the season, he has looked really sharp. He had a poor game against Wales, dropping a try-scoring pass (admittedly fired at his shoulders), but then who didn't have a poor game against Wales. But why, oh why was he allowed to play against Bath last week and get injured?

    Ford isn't producing the goods right now, not sure why. And who makes the call that a line-out 5 yards from your own line should be fired right over the the whole line, with the attendant uncertainty?

  • Comment number 95.

    I think everyone has forgotten the positives from the French match. Three straight losses is obviously very disappointing, especially after a promising season last year. The gradient of improvement has been up and down far too much. Its okay to lose, I really do not mind it. That is only if we continue to be consistent and improve. Its not okay to be great one week and rubbish the next. As a devote Scotland fan I find this aspect of Scotlands game the most frustrating! The France game was a loss but we had moments of brilliance that barely showed against Ireland and were totally absent against Wales. The key issues are MISTAKES!!! and SUPPORT!! Matches we don't drop the ball we seem to win or do well whilst matches we make mistakes the game just slips away.

    Offensively I think we have improved a lot since AR arrived. Last 6 nations we threw the ball about a lot more than usual and forced lots of penalty opportunities. I especially liked watching Scotland attack with pace with the likes of Beattie, Barclay and Brown running hard on to passes. This has been very absent in the last 2 games.

    Here is a typical example of our support issues. A Scottish player breaks the opposition defense, screams down the pitch with the crowd cheering him on, we look threatening, we'll surely get a try from this? No. Why? Because they get tackled and no one is there for an offload or to quickly clean out and create a new series of play in the opposition half. We usually barely save possession and then begin a new passage of play with the opposition defense back and ready for our attack. Then we might get a penalty chance and we boot if for 3.

    I'm sure it will eventually click, hopefully at twickenham.

  • Comment number 96.

    #94. Yes, Ansboro could well be the backs' find of the season for Scotland. I hope he finishes as strongly as he started. He couldn't do a lot with that bullet pass to the shoulder. Was it Nick de Disaster Area who gave it to him? And goodness only knows why Ansboro was allowed to play for his club in the middle of the 6 Nations.

    The only pro-Irish moment I had was when NdL clattered an opponent as he fielded a high ball. I don't know the exact rules, but allowing contact when the catcher only has one foot on the ground just looks like a recipe for serious injury and unsporting conduct to my eyes.

    Yeah, there certainly were some strange lineout calls. Hopefully that's one of the easier ones for the coaches and players to sort out.

    David Sole's comments about Chunk were the best I've read so far. Let's face it, if anyone knows what they're talking about there then Sole is the man.

  • Comment number 97.

    Personally I think it will take a combination of Scotland suddenly pulling their game together AND England having a very bad day at home for a Scotland victory. Currently Scotland have been unable to score tries, a lot of that is down to their own handling errors. Some have suggested that Scotland should try to rely on penalties but there are numerous problems with that:
    1) Realistically you have to be playing in your opponents half to have a shot at the posts.
    2) Your opponent has to concede penalties
    3) Following on from that, your opponent generally needs to be under pressure to concede penalities.

    The thing is though, whilst England have made stupid mistakes and been under pressure, they have never fallen apart like England from a few years back. In the French game they showed they could turn a game around and when it came to rucking, they really beat the French at their own game. England have also had a habit of holding the ball a lot more with very little kicking. They seem to have tried running out of their own 22 more than any other team. Lastly, the English defence is pretty bloody solid. England have only let in 1 try a game so far and score 2.5 points for every 1 they concede. The next closest is Wales with 1.5. You then have to take into account the fact that England is on a high whilst Scotland is on a low. The only thing Scotland has going for it is that they are facing the "old enemy". However, after the abuse England received from Wales and France, I doubt this will affect them at all and the fact that such motivation also didn't help Wales or France may put a dent in Scottish confidence.

  • Comment number 98.

    Don't be too down lads - I think Andy Robinson is right when he says Scotland is heading in the right direction, he's a good coach and was hard done to by our lot. He's trying to achieve what Johnson has started with England, and that means experimenting and losing a few on the way; the difference being that Johnson has been given that chance to lose a few whilst finding the right team - Robinson never got the same chance with England really, he was put under way too much pressure from the get go

    I thought it was a brave decision to start Jackson at fly half and he will have learnt a lot from that one game, S Lamont has been the best Scottish player so far this tournament (in my eyes anyway) and is a great ball carrier - you have a fantastic back row although I agree the front row needs looking at

    I think Scotland will be OK in the future, although as pointed out above you really need more top flight teams based in Scotland - 2 isn't enough to draw from really, a little more investment could go a long long way

    I'm looking forward to the game at Twickenham - although do me a favour and don't start the revitalisation of Scottish rugby until after the 6N is over (or at least the next game anyway :)

  • Comment number 99.

    59. At 5:47pm on 28 Feb 2011, pd122125 wrote:

    I noticed an article in the Scotsman by Willie John McBride at the weekend and a large section of it was his dismay about the game in general at present. He had a go at the law makers and how they are destroying the game. He wishes to see the rucking back in the game.

    Please, please, please bring back rucking into the game. They are big boys they can cope with it. The majority of the penalties conceeded by Ireland (and I don't blame them) would be solved if 2 or 3 forwards were allowed legally as was the case a few years ago to give the offending player a right good shoeing. Not on his head or sensitive areas obviously but legs, hands and body. It would at the stoke of a boot speed up the breakdown and stop the ref constantly shouting "release, move away...away...move...
    I remember one game at murrayfield where Richard Hill was on the wrong side killing the ball with his body (fantastic player) and got abosolutly raked by 3 forwards and Bryan Redpath I think. His shirt was torn to bits and his back looked like Freddy Kruger had taken a swipe. Jonathan Davies on the commentary said "he was on the wrong side and he gets it, and deservedly so". From that moment on not one English player put any part of their body anywhere near the ball in the ruck. What the ref do? Awarded Scotland a penalty for Hill killing the ball. As it should be now. How many times now have we seen a scrum half dig 4 or 5 times for the ball with his hands before it comes out and all the momentum is lost. Before one boot was enough from the scrum half to free it and the ball was away. Sometimes he even rucked his own player it it wasn't coming out. Now he puts his hands up in the air and pleads to the ref.

    Please bring it back. Especially for Scotland. Alongside New Zealand, Scotland were for years the best rucking side in the world. We had to be to compete. Quick rucked ball is where Scotland used to excell. I fear that we will never truely compete again unless it comes back. We are as a nation or people smaller by average than the English, French, South Africans etc. Rucking is a great leveller.


    Best idea of them all and something we down in the SH have been saying for ages. The loss of rucking has been a key point in the degradation of the ruck into the farce that it is now. It is really easy to set your defensive line and target opposing players when you have the time to do so; the resulting quicker ball from rucks will not allow teams the same luxury. Bring back rucking and it has the potential to cause a revolution in how teams will play.

  • Comment number 100.

    Rucking is not the answer in modern rugby, taking the ball to ground is a backward step. The way to beat organised defences can only be moving the defender at the point of contact and passing out of the tackle to linear support.


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