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Inexplicably bad day at the office for Scots

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John Beattie | 16:03 UK time, Sunday, 13 February 2011

Oh dear! Saturday started off so well. A bit of telly, a bit of radio, a bite of lunch, some fireworks, the anthems - and then behind the microphone for the game with all the excitement of a 15-year-old who's bought a train ticket and had the chance to sit beside the girl he fancies.

And then? Well, some Scots in the crowd left early and that tells you something.

What I don't understand is how a good team, a team that's beaten Argentina, South Africa and Australia recently, slumped the way it did in the 24-6 defeat at home to Wales. The beauty, or the horror, of sport is that you can't win all the time and sometimes you have really, really bad days.

Let's touch on psychology first, arguably the most powerful motivator in any aspect of life. If you want some food, you'll buy it. If you really, really need some food, you'll do anything to get it.

In theory, the Scots were favourites and on the way up. In reality, the Welsh were backs-to-the-wall and had to win. So the first point is to say that the Welsh demonstrated a hunger that the Scots lacked - and that applied to many parts of the game.

So I have to praise the Welsh, and don't mind doing so, because rugby's their national game and they have been hammered all week by their press. They even played the song "Under Pressure" on the bus to the game as if to underline a point. They handled the pressure. Scottish players, by contrast, did not.

The second point to make is that I didn't understand why the Scots changed their tactics in a week and kicked so much early possession at the Welsh. Perhaps it was the weather, but in Paris a week ago, Scottish rugby players ran and handled the ball from deep within their own half and had a game plan that, in its audacity, set the French a challenge. The French found themselves tackling Scottish players.

I think we'd have had more success if that had still been the case. I have never liked long kicks, or kick-offs that land unchallenged, but that might just be me.

Welsh tactics, by contrast, never change. They play one game plan. It's really, really simple and I will never forget sitting beside Matt Dawson when he explained it to me a year of so ago. It is: hit up, try to get wide. If there is still some room, go round the corner, hit up wide-ish on the way back, try to get wide. If there is still some room, go round the corner on the other side of the pitch - and repeat until exhausted. It's a lot of running for the forwards, but these Welsh forwards are pretty mobile.

The next difference was midfield firepower.

On the day, the Welsh midfield was outstanding. Phillips, Hook, Roberts and Davies were bigger than their Scottish opponents and prepared to run at Scotland's 10/12 channel, with Hook, in particular, looking electric.

Scotland's midfield did not fire in comparison. Sean Lamont, when he came on, looked like a one-man wrecking ball that might fit in there.

And then comes the scrum. It's hard to tell whether Scotland's scrum has "gone backwards" or whether there is now a perception that it's struggling and therefore referees, who watch the telly, penalise our team when a scrum goes down. After all, they have to make instant decisions.

Can I just finish on this? It's hard for me to write these blogs when it's a Scotland team I used to play for, I have a son in the system and I know what it's like to have gone through this.

Crikey, I remember coming back, as a player, from a game in France and the Scottish press talked of the shame of Scotland's players, who, it said at the time, plainly weren't trying. I played in the game - and I was trying.

Here's what I think. Andy Robinson has given this little country of ours some incredible results recently. He, you, me, even the players, all realise that he has a tiny pool of talent to work from - in fact, just two teams. It isn't all blown out the water in one game.

The coach, the players, the management and the chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union have all gone on record as saying that the principal purpose of the Scottish rugby team now is to "inspire a nation."

Now, I don't happen to believe that it was as bad as some people are making out. You can't win every game.

But, if I am honest, a lot of that wasn't inspiring. I hate it when spectators leave early, because they are sending the team a message.

I bet you that, like you and me, Robinson and co will sit down and watch the video, but I bet you, too, that few people, even in the Scottish team's coaching structure, will be able to put a finger on exactly what went wrong, or at least how they fix it.

Can you say that you "need" to win a game against Ireland? I wonder.

John Beattie presents Sport Nation on BBC Radio Scotland, Saturdays at 0900 GMT.

And you can follow John on Twitter.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Now that i've calmed down a bit, here's a couple of thoughts on player faults. The usual numbers are up!

    Parks - I'm not exactly sure what is going on. Normally he's very clever with the ball, but in this game and in the France game he seems to have gone kicking mad. Impatience is driving him to kick left, right and centre, with none of the occasions resulting in anything. A couple of times he could have gone for a drop goal, particularly during the 13 man situation, which could have given us points, caused a reset and allowed us to run more freely. Honestly can't figure out what's going on in his head.

    Southwell - I cannot honestly see that scenario working in any way for him. He must have known the Welshman would jump, so to run at that speed could only ever result in a serious injury for both players and a card. We're extremely lucky we didn't get a card, I think because Southwell injured himself more than the player. The problem with Southwell is that he has good days and bad days rather frequently. Given how well Lamont did when he came on, i'm beginning to wonder why Lamont wasn't on immediately in the first place.

    Murray - Forced retirement sounds mean, but whatever reputation he once had is long since gone. He looked honestly completely uninterested, smiling away at the camera like he hadn't a care in the world. As soon as he's off the scrum starts to function. Shouldn't this be ringing bells for the coaching team?

    De Luca - Not once did he make any sort of real impact and I honestly can't fathom why we play him. His abilities are very poor. Funnily enough the "sluggish" nature described for Richie Gray could be fit well to him.

    Kellock - He always looks one step away from complete and utter rage, and I think we got a glimpse of that during the game. He looked like he was going to kill whoever he had pinned to the ground. I can't say I blame him given it was obvious Wales were dangerously tackling Evans, but he should maintain discipline if he's to be captain. Whatever was said though seemed to work. The Welsh weren't so hard on Evans afterward.

    Overall like the audience leaving I stopped watching the TV. I haven't seen such a poor performance for a long time, and we generally didn't look like we were into it as much as the Welsh.

    Not sure if i'll be watching Scotland the next time they're playing.

  • Comment number 2.

    After going through the peaks (an away win against Ireland) and troughs (a devastating defeat against Wales) of last year's Six Nations, I thought that with recent results (the defeat against NZ withstanding), Scotland had really turned a corner. We had showed ambition, determination, and a willingness to run with the ball in hand in the games against S.A., Argentina, and Samoa, and actually scoring some tries against France last week had made me quietly confident that we could sneak a win against a poorly performing and unconfident Wales team. I'm sure it was a feeling shared by anyone supporting Scotland at yesterday's match that the team playing was the one that turned up against NZ and not the one that turned up against Argentina, Ireland, Samoa, or South Africa. It pained me to watch all the knock-ons, mistimed and dropped off tackles, poor passing and general ineptitude that the Scotland team embodied yesterday. I lost count the number of times we butchered overlaps and decent try scoring opportunities. Scoring only three points against a team down to *13 men* is unforgivable at any level, but especially so at international level. Due respect must go to Wales for an outstanding defensive effort and forcing the Scottish line back metres in almost every tackle, and for targetting the Scottish number 10 who (as usual when up against a physical defence) played far too deep and made errors at critical times. I could go on about, for example, De Luca being almost invisible for most of the first half, Southwell being completely inept until he was taken off for his blood injury (and who should've been carded), or Jacobson (who is a great servant of the game mind you) acting as if he was playing with the backs instead of the forwards, but what's the point? The Scottish team and the management know what errors they committed yesterday and they should know how to fix them. I don't think it's the time to batten down the hatches and start decrying the beginning of the end for international Scottish rugby. We have had some good results that demonstrate that we know how to play positive and proactive rugby. The team now needs to decide whether it's going to let this result get under their skin and let this mark the beginning of another disappointing Six Nations tournament, or whether it's going to move forward in a mature and positive manner and put this result behind them. They did it after the embarrassing NZ result. Let's hope they do the same here.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't believe the team weren't trying; clearly they put in a lot of effort.

    However, games of rugby often hinge on small things which can make a significant difference. Just getting the forwards onto the the front foot from time to time, backs running on to a pass in front of them rather than from a stand-still also has a huge impact.

    With Dan Parks at 10 however, we will rarely achieve these fundamentals; he enjoyed a dream season for Scotland last year, following quite a few poor peformances prior to last season. He has clearly peaked and now we need a change at 10.

    This must be a classic case of the coach being the only spectator not to see the problems we have at stand-off; with the RWC coming up, we need to get one of the younger guys in at stand-off, starting games and up to speed, ready for that tournament. What better preparation than the next two games of the 6-nations.

    The status quo will again result in static forwards and backs and we will take a pasting from both Ireland and England. They may make some mistakes, but at least we shouldn't have to watch such a stale and static performance from our guys again.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was an astonishing display of ineptitude right from the first whistle.
    Previous stalwarts like Murray, Barclay, Brown and Hines were simply hopeless, while there was no spark from our 9 & 10 and don't get me started on the soft centres...
    What now?
    Blair has to start, as does Low, and Sean Lamont should take over at 12.
    However, I fancy it's going to be down to the game with Italy for the wooden spoon - a depressingly familiar story.

  • Comment number 5.

    I honestly can't believe all the praise heaped on Lamont, Walker and Evans. Although looking dangerous at times when running with the ball, I think between the 3 of them they have a combined total of 2 completed passes so far this tournament. It becomes very easy to defend against these players as you know that Lamont/Walker are going to try and run over you and Evans will try to step and go around the outside. The most notable example was the 2 on 1 towards the end of the Wales game, with Walker and Parks bearing down on the line with only Hook to beat. Walker did his usual trick of trying to run over the man and the chance of a try disappeared, and I'm sure Lamont would have done the same. The sad fact is though, is that we do not have anyone who can come in and do a better job that I can think of, with Danielli being of the same mould of Lamont and Walker.

    I was disappointed with Parks as well, who didnt look to play the same go forward rugby that he did against France and was instead sat much deeper, putting us miles behind the gain line every phase. I'd like to see Jackson get some more game time as he's not afraid to run the ball at times and likes to play go forward rugby, which would then bring De Luca and Ansbro into the game more, who were anonymous yesterday as they didnt get a chance to play with Parks at 10 going for cross-field kicks (did these remind anyone else of the 80th minute against Australia at the 2007 World Cup?).

    Basic handling errors cost us the last 2 games, we need to get back to basics and not be afraid to take the ball into contact without trying silly off loads in congested areas which are never going to work.

    What I'd like to see in 2 weeks is Jackson starting at 10, fewer offloads and the basic handling errors cut out. If we can make these changes I think we've got a chance to get some points on the board in our next game

  • Comment number 6.

    I think we need to get things in perspective. wales backs are pound for pound are better players e.g. Hook v Parks, Roberts v De Luca , Byrne v Southwell, Phillips v Lawson
    Out of every 10 games we might win 2 against Wales
    Scotland have a very small squad, try their best and we are always going to have ups and downs.
    Everything needs to work on the day and with the lack of world class players its a bit of a lottery asking 15 players to go beyond their talent on the same day.
    We will no doubt play better against Ireland and make less mistakes but that is the nature of our game. Down one week, up the next.
    Robinson and Townsend need to look at why the kept Parks on for 80 mins when you could see him struggling.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    i watched the glasgow v cardiff game on friday night and i have to say duncan weir did very well! i know he is only 19 but patrick lambie was 20 when he made his debut for the springboks in november so why the hell not give him a chance?! he can run, pass, tackle and kick as well as or better than any of our other choices at 10. i also believe jason white should be called back into the squad as nathan hines isnt carrying out the tough guy role. kellock is too small for it but he is a massive motivational factor for us. hogg and taylor would be good to see too, the back row of white, hogg and taylor had power but also running ability which was missing yesterday.

  • Comment number 9.

    And I watched the Ireland game today, they will be tough, tough nuts to crack in Murrayfield as that's a team that's waiting to click like it used to.

  • Comment number 10.

    I would love to see Andy Robinson give Ruaridh Jackson, Sean Lamont and Joe Ansboro a go as a mid-field unit and (if he's fit) bring back Rory Lamont as full-back for Southwell.

    Upfront Moray Low seems to offer more in the scrum with a fit again Richie Gray. Whilst I like Hines, the sooner we get Beattie Jnr back in the international fold, the better... I think Vernon is shaping up to be a great back row forward but maybe a year away from reaching full power.

  • Comment number 11.

    Funny how when there's praise to be dished out Parks is at the back of the queue and when there is criticism he's right there at the front. Clearly he has his limitations but, bar Dan Carter perhaps, that's true for just about every stand-off that has played the game. Plus, he's playing in a position where his errors are more brutally exposed than in arguably any other position on the park (full-back perhaps excluded). Yes, he had a poor game yesterday. But so did about 17 other Scots.

    One of the most frustrating aspects for me was the lack of support runners any time we made a meaningful break. It's a problem that I cannot believe Toonie - who was one of the finest support runners and playmakers we've ever had - hasn't eradicated yet. We continually allow our breakers and ball-carriers to run isolated which inevitably results in a panicked knock-on, penalty against us or a turnover. You need only look at Wales' first try yesterday to see the value of having a chap on your breaking player's shoulder.

    Another bone of contention is the amount of time we waste at the breakdown. There's no such thing as quick-ball in the Scottish team and we were sorely punished for it yesterday. The scrum half has to use the ball quicker and more efficiently, varying the play once in a while, box-kicking now and then. Once Cusiter is fit again, I feel we'll see an improvement in this area.

    Here's a question for you, John. How many of our problems could be solved by having a third pro team in Scotland? I understand the financial problems within the SRU and the subsequent closure of the Borders. However, I cannot believe that we can have three pro ice-hockey teams - Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars and Edinburgh Capitals - but only two pro rugby teams. The north-east would be a fantastic place to set up a team. Surely that has to be the long-term goal? Although, if the rumours are true, there's more chance of us being downsized to one team rather than upsized to three.

  • Comment number 12.

    MMcEwan - as regards pro teams, the three ice hockey teams have players who are hardly on a wage, certainly not a wage compared to rugby salaries. Yes, great idea, just not sure who pays for it as SRU are charged by the bank with getting their overdraft down.

  • Comment number 13.

    The ideal, then, would be a club founded independent of the SRU, who clearly don't have two pennies to rub together. But then again, there's nae chance of that happening any time soon. Here's hoping Beattie Jnr makes a return soon.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think that as a Welsh fan you can't see Scotland playing that badly again this season. Expectation brings its own pressure [I fully expected Scotland to win], it's like nailing the final putt or serve at tennis.

    Scotland may like Wales prefer to be the underdog as the favourites tag brings its own peculiar problems.

    I think it should be put down to a bad day at the office. In Kiplings words " If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same"

    Scotland are going in the right direction on the right road but just went up a cul de sac this time. Keep the faith John!

  • Comment number 15.

    A bad day at the office for everybody; especially the fans.

    I am pleased the Mr. Murray will not be taking part in the next couple of games ... give him time to sort it out and others the chance to stake their claim.

    Sean Lamont must be a shoe in for a place now.

    It can only get better.

  • Comment number 16.

    The problem, as ever, goes much, much deeper than the players on the pitch and the coaching team.

    Scotland has only 2 fully professional rugby teams, the same number as Italy. This is not enough to provide enough players of the quality needed to sustain top flight international rugby.

    The SRU chief executive has stated that he does not care about fans and he cares less about top players plying their trade in Scotland. We now have a paper from Ayr RFC that has been circulated amongst Scottish Premier 1 clubs that proposes to take Scottish rugby back to 1996.

    The Scottish Rugby Union needs a new chief executive.

    John, you say that the SRU are charged with reducing the bank debt. Well, one way to help do that is to increase revenue. The current Chief executive has failed to do that. He should be sacked.

    Cutting expenses to reduce debt without increasing revenue leaves you with a smaller and less capable organisation. You should know that, John.

    Scottish rugby is in a very precarious state and any good international performance merely papers over the cracks. Gordon McKie, the current chief executive took us to that state.

    SRU plc, need to come up with a business plan, to present to the bank, that shows investment in the game and shows what that investment will give in return. You don't have to look too far to see that investment in players, professional teams and fans works - Ireland and Wales for example. If you want other examples, look to Australia where rugby union languishes in 5th or 6th place in their sports pecking order.

    The Scotland rugby team are a laughing stock because of lack of investment over the last 10 to 15 years. Something has to change, otherwise we may as well give up.

    This weekend, all of our teams lost to Wales. Glasgow to Blues, Edinburgh to Dragons, U20's to Wales and so on. Wales operate with 4 professional teams, as do Ireland (our opponents in 2 weeks). Both Wales and Ireland have invested in their professional teams, their players and their supporters. What has the SRU done in that regard except scare away potential investors, annoy the small number of fans that they did have and, finally, chase away their top players. Not exactly a recipe for success, is it now?

    This season is a right-off for our professional teams and so we have an opportunity to start re-building now and to implement the first changes in time for next season. First changes, let Glasgow and Edinburgh have more say in their marketing efforts and improve conditions for their season ticket holders (if there are any after this season). Second change, work with Glasgow and Edinburgh to make sure that they both have robust marketing plans that target the right areas and that they have a business plans for growth. Third change, get the bank on-side and start attracting investors. Fourth change, encourage top players to stay, but no stupid 'fortress Scotland idea' players should stay because they want to and not because they have to.

    With those changes in place come August we have started the foundations of a recovery. If not then Scotland are staring into the wilderness of second, third or even fourth tier rugby.

    I really feel for Tim Visser, the Dutchman who put all his faith into playing top class international rugby for Scotland. Unless we have radical change at the top, by the time he qualifies Scotland are likely to be no better than The Netherlands.

  • Comment number 17.

    Would anybody agree that the duff rendition of Flower of Scotland was unfortunately reflected by the Scottish performance?

    Usually the crowd sings too fast this time the band were way ahead. Not a good start.

    Bring back the second verse and everybody gie it laldy.

  • Comment number 18.

    Welsh fan here, I'd normally take a 3-0 win against anyone in the 6 Nations, but I was really hoping for yet another in a long line of classic matches between Scotland and Wales. It wasn't to be, and it is a shame.

    I think we started well with composure, built up a decent lead in the first 20 minutes and Scotland started to panic a little, especially when we had 2 men off the pitch, (It is frustrating, we even lost more ground against England when a man up last week). I think if the passing and handling had been better, you guys would have been right back into it, if not in front, before half time; then the pressure would have been on us. The team can never be accused of not trying, it's due to trying too hard.

    I was particularly worried about the trip to Murrayfield as I think Scotland HAVE turned a corner of late, I don't think this has changed with one result. I'd rather have the mental strength ability to grind out victories against Southern Hemisphere nations than score a couple of flashy tries and ultimately lose. (i.e. our last 12 months)

    Lived in Scotland as a kid for 3 years, Scotland is my 'other' team and I wish you all the best for the rest of the championship.

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    Gosh, John,
    I hope AR and the players aren't reading your blog today, or I fear they may be so depressed they may not bother turning up fot the Irish gane!!
    It was a truly depressing night, but it is unlike you to be quite so negative.

    I made my points on your previous blog at 8.22pm. last night, but just 2 days ago we were all really excited about the potential of this team and a promising exciting team doesn't just become hopeless overnight.

    As you alluded to, I think it was the psychological factor that was the main reason for this performance, but I don't think it is just as simple as you implied with the Welsh being more hungry. I think there will be nothing gained from studying the video of the game. They have got to put that nightmare out of their minds and AR and his staff have to focus on getting their heads in the right place for the next game. The Scots have always played better when they are underdogs, but I hope and believe that AR, by demanding high standards can change that in time.Of course they were all committed and trying their best, but that is not enough.

    Yes, they do need to make a few changes to freshen things up, obviously Sean Lamont, (possible man of the match) has to be accommodated and Euan Murray has to go. We MUST sort the scrummage out or we are going nowhere.

    Of course, having young Richie Gray & Mr Beattie JNR back would be a major help and boost to morale as well!!

    If they get their heads in the right place in 2 weeks time they are absolutely capable of whipping those Irish boys. As well as they played today they have their weaknesses - their front row is nothing great for a start, and with the possible exception of O'Connell for his experience I fancy all our pack in front of theirs any day. So, TAKE HEART, let's get behind our boys and come a fortnight's time - Boys - "Get stuck intae 'em!!"

  • Comment number 21.

    I assumed the Irish scrum would be shunted backwards to day, as ours was last week, and sometimes it was. I attributed that to their props being able to look up to Ronnie Corbett, but our pack was in all sorts of trouble until Murray went off. We won't have him for the next two games even if he should be selected, so that's that addressed.

    I wasn't enthusiastic about Hines at 6. He's not mobile enough, but maybe he could have been effective yesterday, if Gray had proved fit. Gray will be back, but I believe Beattie played well enough on Friday to prove he's ready to return and Vernon didn't play well enough to remain a starter, so we're back to wondering if the successful former Glasgow back row should be reformed or Hines kept to combat an aggressive and effective Irish loose trio. I'd go for the Glasgow boys and keep Hines on the bench, but I wouldn't argue strongly either way.

    If the pack is going forwards and able to protect the ball, then 9 and 10 will have an easier ride. Having watched Edinburgh play better without Blair, I wouldn't be hugely enthusiastic about starting with him and wonder how early we can bring Jackson up to start a game. Parks is inconsistent and defensively weak beyond fragile. That then leaves the centres, where there is no easy answer. Lamont was tried at centre and it didn't work and I've never been a fan of de Luca, but who else is fit? I'd like to see Dewey given a run at inside centre for Glasgow at some stage, but he's not fit either.

    I'm hoping the pack going forward will make the essential difference for the backs and would stick to Low, Gray and Beattie starting as the only changes.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm not surprised people left early-I'm amazed so many give up their hard-earned cash year in year out, supporting a team that produces more false dawns than a scene creator in Hollywood!
    I said before this match that we could get 3rd in the table this year, a place above our normal and deserved 4th spot. After the rubbish dished up against Wales (congratulations to them by the way), it's a good job Italy seem to be down in the dumps.
    Inept handling, poor scrummaging and general numb-minded play should mean the end for Parks, Murray and Southwell. Never again should they pull on the blue jersey.
    Sick and tired of excuses, pre-match over-confidence, and professional rugby players playing like balloons.
    How much was a ticket? refund the lot!

  • Comment number 23.

    It is significant that Parks is not sure of his place at the Cardiff Blues so who on earth thinks he can cut it for Scotland!!

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm looking at this from a Scottish viewpoint so no offence atall to the Welsh, who thoroughly deserved their win.

    We were terrible, because we panicked when behind. You could see it in everything from 1-22.

    There was no sympathy on the pass, the rucks were hit too often illegally and everything was rushed.

    Parks looks serene when he can manage a game at 10, but on the retreat and behind on the scoreboard, he looked like the Parks of a few seasons ago, utterly without composure.

    I remember him losing patience in stoppage time in the last World Cup against Argentina when we needed to score, and after endless phases he misjudged a kick to the corner.

    Bang on the stroke of half time yesterday I said to a friend, following our best spell of possession in the entire match; 'he's going to kick to the corner' - and there it was.

    New coach, same old mistake, not good.

    But this was not a one man failing. The props spent too long in the ref's ear, and he lost patience with them. Understandable. Several kicks went straight into touch, balls were spilled and errors abounded.

    Rush, rush, rush.

    Today France showed exactly how to play when behind on the scoreboard. And if we don't learn that, and quickly, the World Cup campaign may not get beyond the pool stage.

  • Comment number 25.

    Have to agree with you hawkeyethejock. Parks had produced some good performances of late and I feel that it might have went to his head a bit. Saturday says he should not get the starting spot again. Murray in my opinion so never get a starting spot again or into the squad again his mind is elsewhere. Southwell is just not a test level player... he should never get near the starting spot again.

  • Comment number 26.

    Horrible day at Murrayfield, I sat there after the final whistle stunned at what I'd just seen. Still fingers and everything else crossed it was just a blip (like the All Black game).
    Changes need to be made, the pack needs to man up! I'm glad the next two games are on Sundays, there'll be no need to drop Euan Murray...
    On the plus side though, the lineout was better than last week.

    Other issues are the lack of supporting play, and poor decision making. A 2 man advantage and we opt to kick for goal as opposed to kicking to touch?????? Have some self belief guys.

    Finally, John how's your son getting on? He'd better be back for the Ireland match

  • Comment number 27.

    Well said Philip. The SRU have been increasingly hopeless for a while when it comes to developmental choices within the game. They spent way too much time and money on a fancy new stadium way back, and not enough time on developing players. Meanwhile every other team did the opposite! Proof of the pudding? Look at Ireland.

  • Comment number 28.

    John, The SRU suckered players into playing for scottish pro teams, contracted them in as their only option, obliged to select and play the contracted as they are on the books and lead by the old school brigade. Along with the scottish pro teams - The worst spectacle of rugby i have ever seen in many many years. What's your excuses for the SRU debacle now ???? It was a Saturday evening, The lights were in their eyes, the strips were too tight, the grass was wet, the welsh team cheated ????????????????????? Give a true reflection of what's wrong with the SRU and you're credible. miss the opertunity and you are no better than the rest of the yes men........

  • Comment number 29.

    Like most of the contributors here I was thoroughly depressed by Scotland's performance yesterday; I had expected better. But looking at the results of both Glasgow and Edinburgh in the Magner's league and Heineken Cup this season perhaps these expectations were unrealistic. Until we see our professional teams consistently doing well in these competitions I fear we will never achieve consistent success at international level.

  • Comment number 30.

    John, a very balanced and sensible view. Yes it was a very poor performance and I cant remember a team when so many players did not for what ever reason turn up for one match.No one from the camp is making any excuses as in previous regimes and should be applauded for their frankness and honesty. However we need to stay behind the team, stay positive and confident(not a great trait of us Scots) and build on what is still work in progress.There are many good thinks about this team and what Andy and the guys are doing, however there need, in my opinion, to be two small tweaks.

    Firstly I do belive some players have been selected on past performances rather than current form, we do need to be loyal however if you are not playing well then international rugby offers no hiding place.Murray was mashed in Paris and is unavailable for the next two games so there was no logic in his selction for Wales.

    Secondly we need to figure out how to deal with teams who play blitz defense and for that matter try it oursleves. While Parks did kick too much I can't really remember anyone trying to chip over the on rushing defense or looking for an inside runner to change things around.

    If anyone needs a tonic just remember Matt Williams!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    In my previous post, I may have come across as angry and upset- I am!

    The World Cup is just around the corner-we may have just enough time to get a bit of momentum, but ONLY if the coach makes what some may see as "brave" decisions, and bins the 3 or 4 in the side that year in year out don't make the grade, or are willing to play on every day of the week. We all know who they are (They are mentioned after every match that scotland plays).
    If we stay as we are, we will not get out of the group stage.

  • Comment number 32.

    "some Scots in the crowd left early and that tells you something."

    Yeah it tells you Scotish fans are rubbish.

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

    W Main wrote:

    De Luca - Not once did he make any sort of real impact and I honestly can't fathom why we play him. His abilities are very poor. Funnily enough the "sluggish" nature described for Richie Gray could be fit well to him."

    I've never played international rugby, but I agree with you wholeheartedly. I also struggle to see what he brings. I even wonder whether he would get into many other Magners League teams.

    But, as JB says in his piece, there is a VERY small pool of talent in Scotland :-(

  • Comment number 35.

    32# That comment is bang out of order and I'm surprised it hasn't been "hooked". Try saying that to the thousands of supporters who travel loyally, and with pride, hope and loyalty - not only to Murrayfield but to the 5 away venues on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 36.

    I spent all week hailing the Scottish performance in France. Hailing it as the turning point for this team. We have had big victories in recent years through Dan Parks boot, but now we had scored tries. I promised to all that I spoke to that this team would beat the Welsh and knock them about up front.

    On Saturday I was embarrassed. I have never seen such a disgraceful performance by a Scottish side. Now that may sound fickle but I feel that it is time that the Scottish side and fans STOPPED living off these past glories of Argentina, Ireland, South Africa and Australia. You are only as good as your last performance and at the moment Scotland are the one of the worst teams in top tier International rugby.

    Before the game I was discussing the various outcomes with the party I was with. "Who is the referee?" someone asked. "George Clancy" I responded. This was met with one big collective groan. How correct these fans were. The man had a shocker in my book. This is no excuse for the performance but it did not help us one bit.

    Here is why I criticise his performance:

    1)I have never seen such a militaristic, one sided interpretation of the breakdown in my life.

    2)The fact that it took the touch judge to point out the high tackle on Max Evans was a disgrace...EVERYONE in the ground saw it except Mr. Clancy.

    3)In the build up to the first try, Mr. Clancy should have reset the scrum, he didn't seem to mind doing it for the rest of the game. (I should point out that R. Lawson should never have put the ball in).

    4) Jamie Roberts break which was halted by Sean Lamont (Probably the only player in a blue jersey that could contemplate walking off with his head raised) - Roberts, whilst clearly being held, clearly wriggles forward for extra yards and presents the ball. Penalty - NOT RELEASING

    So in there are several different decisions that COULD have reduced the score by 10.

    Anyway, now my criticism of the selection. I was shocked by the selection by the coaching team in the build up. I thought Lamont did more than enough to warrant a place in the team, I thought the warning signs were there last week with Euan Murray's scrummaging, Service improved when Mike Blair came on at half time and Nick De Luca has done nothing in 20 odd caps. I was also concerned by the French criticism that we are the most polite pack in World rugby.

    Euan Murray appears to have suffered greatly in recent times with his exile from Northampton and he is quite simply not the player he was. Euan must improve his scrummaging becauase beyond that he is not effective enough around the park to warrant a place.

    Sean Lamont plays in the centre for Llanelli and appears to be our only truly effective runner. Everytime he has got on the ball he has looked like he might make something happen. Try him at 12 in the absence of the one-dimensional Graeme Morrisson. We might even find a long term 12. He offers something different. NIck De Luca is NOT the way forward. This is the international centre that in 21 caps has not scored a try. He has done absolutely nothing so far in the tournament. It must be the end of the road for his international career.

    The back row were posted missing on Saturday, largely due to the fantastic performance of the Welsh back row but also due to the referee and an overall shocker. Nathan Hines is not the answer at 6, although I think we need his nastiness in the pack. This means that one of Richie Gray or Al Kellock needs to step aside. I cannot wait until the Killer B's return to their pomp and glory. What I don't understand is that we, not that long ago, had an embarrassment of riches in this position, now we are playing Nathan Hines, a second row, there.

    Dan Parks has proved to Scottish fans time and time again that he cannot distribute the ball effectively. The man is a fantastic kicker of the rugby ball but he does not release the backs. His kicking has not seemed to be as controlled recently, possibly due to a lack of game time at Cardiff, I don't know. His decision making in the 22 is hopeless and nothing summed this up better than him receiving the ball in the 22, under the posts, before stopping and being thumped by the ever present Ryan Jones. There were a number of other occasions where we seemed to panic and just pput in a woeful kick to make it look like we were doing something.

    Hugo Southwell had one of his off days. In fact can anyone remember a worse opening however many minutes he had? 1 kick into touch and goal, 2 out on the full and a face full of Lee Byrne's boot - in which he was lucky not to be sent off rather than carried off. His performance must improve BUT must be a candidate to be dropped, if fit, for the next game.

    Scrum half is also looking like a worrying position. With Cusiter out injured the others have not stepped up at all. Both players decision making and service to a struggling Parks was woeful. This must be improved. These players are quality, they should not have days at the office that are that bad.

    The skill level was dreadful, the decision making was shocking and set piece was far from brilliant. Can things only get better? We only have an unlucky Irish side next...but now we're not favourites maybe we will win.

  • Comment number 37.

    #17. Andrew Kane. Yes, I would totally agree with you. We cannae even get our own national anthem right in our own national stadium. It's back to the drawing board from A-Z. What a shambles.

    This 6 Nations has already passed us by. I think the bravest and most practical thing to do now is to focus on an experimental period that gets us as strong as possible for the World Cup.

  • Comment number 38.

    I was one who left early. I did so because I wanted to send a message to the Scotland team. That message was "This level of performance is NOT acceptable." I have been watching Scotland, sometimes live, sometimes on TV for about 25 years and I have seen some pretty awful performances. When the team plays badly I want to tell them how bad it was. I accept the team will not win every game and if they play well or play with courage and desire and still don't win, you can guarantee that I will have lost my voice come the end of 80 mins as I will have been cheering them on as loudly as anyone else (which at Murrayfield is not that tricky as the crowd seem to simply want to sit and chat as opposed to support).

    Yesterday was as bad as I have ever seen it. The players have to understand that there is a level of performance that the supporters will not accept - there has to be a fear in their mind that if they fall below this level the supporters will crucify them. They are accountable to more than just Mr Robinson. They should have left the pitch yesterday to a chorus of booo's. They would then be more motivated to make it better next time.

    I know the players all care, I know they are all trying. I don't think its fair to single out individuals from yesterday as they are team and collectively as a team they were awful. The majority of the crowd at Murrayfield certainly don't care as much as the team. If they did, they would have been reminding those on the pitch in blue shirts of their obligations, of the pride that the jersey should bring and of what those in the stands would give to be in their position.

    I appreciate the players may well be aware of all of this but when the performance falls to level I saw yesterday it is up to the support to remind the players. The Scotland team needs to earn the respect of those who give up their weekends and their money (£100 for two seats in the South stand) - they are lucky to have the opportunity to do so in 2 weeks time. The Irish may have lost today but did you see their faces as they walked onto the pitch? Full of desire, hunger and aggression. Our boys need to show that. I think they can. I'll be back at Murrayfield again shouting them on - but if its anything like yesterday, I will be horse from telling them its not acceptable. I only wish more were happy to join me in letting the team know.

  • Comment number 39.

    Ás the article says, Scotland doesn't have yards of resources, and at the moment the backs don't look awfully muscular - at a time when the rules seemed designed for muscular backs. Even so, there have been some great wins, builton intelligence and determination. Perhaps we need to enjoy those wins and not fret too much when occasionally Scotland gets out-muscled and comes apart at the seams - it will happen.

    I'm with Captain Midnight on the subject of strategising for the future. For what it's worth, were I Robinson - which I'm not - I'd forget the Six Nations trophies and use the rest of the tournament to work on a World Cup squad and pattern of play designed for the big-time opposition. Robinson seems to know how to do that. There will be easier games in the World Cup and it will in some extent be possible to work towards big performances in the big games and husband resources for them.

    What do you think, seriously, Mr Beattie?

  • Comment number 40.

    This performance was always coming I think. Being favourites for a game that was as tight as this was never going to sit easily. I think Scotland are missing a strong figure at centre like Morrison or Henderson before - a strong consistent performer who rarely makes mistakes. I have felt for a long time that Ben Cairns is the best 13 available and don't know what he has to do to get some game time while De Luca fluffs chance after chance.Scotland are only going to get results I feel by defending well and kicking goals.

  • Comment number 41.

    My mother phoned today and asked if I was a jinx travelling to murrafield… I’m beginning to believe her…one of the few times I’ve travelled down from aberdeen in expectation rather than hope. You can’t blame folk for leaving early, I felt short changed myself and I didn’t even buy the tickets ( the gf did), but the ineptitude of play on display beggarded belief, I’m quite a calm character by nature ( as my team mates will attest) but honestly , watching that yesterday made me almost incandescent. Opposition teams can have no fear of us ball in hand, as we will either smash up close, tbh , it works or the ball will go to parks who will track sideways and set up someone to get smashed (parks: whose only skill in living as long in the game is not having an opposition backrow having killed him by now), I’ll agree he kicks well and controls a game when we achieve parity but backtracking requires some serious questions to be asked, I appreciete a leopard canna change its spots but seriously, a bit of grunt from him wouldn’t go amiss, example: in the ireland game today Trihn-Duc took a ball up the blindside and was fully committed to going forward as a runner/ball carrier, selfless…. We don’t need a 10 in play all the time….(as a fan infront of me said “ we just need a 10”) … just someone who gets stuck in….imagine a team of Lamonts on yesterdays evidence….
    But enough on parks… De Luca… anyone else remember reading when he came on the scene with cairns about how lethal their edinburgh partnership was in the magners…… have never seen ANY evidence of such. As someone earlier stated… 21 caps…no try, EVEN MORRISON has scored…
    Something is wrong wi Murray…..nuff said… we struggled against wales’ 2ND STRING PROPS…
    We just seemed to try and out welsh the welsh… silly offloads… if its no on…dinna give it…
    I seriously think I will need to see a run of victories before I consider making the daytrip down to edinburgh again… I appreciate that may be a long time coming but on the money saving front…great!!! I can stay at home and simply change the channel then….. I sincerely hope to be proven wrong..but won’t hold my breath!

    “Hopes” for the next game:
    Jackson to actually get on….he is the deputy after all
    Low…well it’s a given due to Murray going to kirk
    ANYONE at 12 other than De Luca… Is Grove a dirty word????
    Beattie Jnr back..
    Lamont to continue showing desire
    Space being attacked rather than feared
    Players running with support ready to ruck if required (not getting isolated)
    Wingers, if being shown the outside, to take it and use their gas…they are wingers after all (supposedly the fastest men on the team)

  • Comment number 42.

    #32 No, it tells me that they are fed up of Gordon McKie throwing Scottish Rugby down the toilet.

  • Comment number 43.

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  • Comment number 44.

    #39 We could have. Just takes a bit of effort. Something that Gordon Mckie doesn't like.

  • Comment number 45.

    I always believed I would never walk out of Murryfield before the final whistle but with over 10 minutes left of the game, I said to the guys, enough was enough. What other statement can a supporter give then leaving early to show his/her disappointment?

    The gentleman in the row behind us used the phrase "it's school boy stuff" on several occasions and that is exactly the level of performance we were watching. The basics were seriously lacking; passing, kicking, tackling, ball retention, scrums all areas we as school players are taught first and the Scotland players on the day could not do those basics well enough.

    Like everyone else, I have faith in Andy Robinson but his selection against France and Wales seems inconsistant to me. I was a big fan of Murray but I think he has now developed a reputation for dropping the scrum and refereees are often blaming him, even when he's not at fault. For me Murray Low has to start against Ireland.

    Poor Richie Vernon has talent but is not ready for this level. I watch him regularly for Glasgow and whenever he has the ball and goes into contact it's a toss up weather or not the ball comes back. He's turned over too often even at that level. Ali Strokocsh is fit again and playing well, as is John Beattie and whilst they may be lacking match practice they are two guys who have never had a bad game for their country.

    Kelly Brown is normally Mr reliable but he too had a shocker! Him and Nathan Hines seemed to get isolated on too many occassions and Brown went to deck too easily making a turn over more likely.

    I'm all for giving guys a second chance but DeLuca has had his and must now be replaced. Asbro is now on his second chance and if selected for Ireland he must play well to restore faith in him.

    I agree with a comment previously made that Max Evans, Sean Lamont and Nikki Walker played okay but they must know when to take contact and when to use the ball. Nikki would get the ball and instantly tuck it under his arm, even when there is an overlap and passing opportunity.

    Southwell has too many bad games to justify his retention in the starting XV, so Chris Patterson or Rory Lamont should get the call up.

    Overall, I'm fed up being the optimist and pray Scotland turn it round next time out but I will now not have any high hopes.

  • Comment number 46.

    W Main. Thanks for your support. I can't say any more than that because I've said it all before.

    The chief executive of the Scottish Rugby Union must be sacked.

  • Comment number 47.

    I've just read Sean Lamont's post-match comments on the Beeb's pages and he and I are at least singing off the same hymn sheet.

    Good on him for standing up like that and calling it straight from the heart.

    If you aren't hell-bent on giving your best for the Thistle, then take a hike and make way for those who are.

  • Comment number 48.

    Scotland have flattered to deceive for the past year. They mugged an Australia team who missed 5 shots at goal, including a potentially match-winning conversion. Argentina are more or less poor these days and South Africa was another mugging they inflicted on a disinterested SA team in the rain.

    New Zealand, Samoa, Wales games = the real Scotland. Limited, one-dimensional, uncomfortable throwing the ball around and mentally weak.

    And that's without mentionig Scotland's absolutely pathetic try-scoring abilities and hopeless basic skills.

  • Comment number 49.

    An extremely poor and disappointing performance from Scotland-several steps back from the progress they have made under AR. The hope is that they cannot possibly collectively play that badly again. I think Andy Nicol hit the nail on the head when he said that Scotland were lacking composure. I think we did panic and try to force things along with some very poor decision making.

    I've never been a big fan of Dan Parks but he did play well last year and in Argentina and deserved the jersey. Saturday, however, was back to the worst of him that i have seen. I agree with Craig Chalmers in The Herald that it is now time to look to the future as far as our #10 goes. It is hard to blame Ansoboro or De Luca as they weren't given a chance-but De Luca in particular was was anonymous. Sean Lamont must have staked his claim for a place in the center. I also thought Nicky Walker had a poor game-he ran strongly but his decision making was poor. Also thought Rory Lawson had a bad game-Mike Blair should probably start in 2 weeks. I could go on, but most of the team did not perform.

    The scrum was very interesting again-as soon as Murray Low came on the ref decided that Wales were bringing it down and not us-does this actually have to do with how well Low and Murray were scrumaging respectively or is the perception of the referee that Murray is bringing it down? Still, the strike against the head was unforgivable for the first Welsh try.

    All in all, we made it easy for Wales with our mistakes, lots of people are say how well they defended when down to 13 men, i don't even agree with that-all they to be was competent.
    Terribly disappointing.

  • Comment number 50.

    Ridiculous, when you're 16-0 down you need 7 points not 3.

    We should be kicking for lineouts on the 5m line and hammering out tries.

    Disappointed with Robinson and Parks, different coach, same mentality.

    Would love to see Sean Lamont in the midfield, he never gets enough of the ball.

  • Comment number 51.

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  • Comment number 52.

    John you say "Now, I don't happen to believe that it was as bad as some people are making out. You can't win every game." I agree but there is a huge difference between losing after playing well and losing after being dreadfull. I agree with you when you say Players don't go out not to try but seriously on Saturday it was appalling. There were something like 20 errors, for some reason Scottish players do not seem to be able to hang onto the ball. We give too much ball away and against France and Wales it cost us dear! We need a game plan and to stick to it. Glasgow and edinburgh seem to play a nice off loading game, sometimes risky but I'd rather lose taking a few risks than lose like Saturday. At least the coach and team seem to realise they let themselves down. Lets hope they do something about it

  • Comment number 53.

    Just read Sean Lamont's comments, he is very, very strong, much stronger than I was here, about the passion.

    Am about to go on air here in Scotland to explain this aspect of "lack of committment". It's the strangest thing, sometimes things don't click. I actually don't know what to say, did Scottish players hide? They can't have been doing that.

  • Comment number 54.

    Hang on a minute guys, disappointing as it was, it's no so long since EVERY visit to Murrayfield produced a similar showing, and we all sat through it then.
    It was sad to see so many people leaving early, but then maybe it's a sign of raised expectations? The only other times I've seen so many leave so early were the meltdown against Italy a few years back and the utter drubbing against Wales 6 years ago.

    I don't think the scrum is as bad as everyone makes out. It's not long since the formidable Springbok pack was annihilated, so I think it's more about playing the ref better. From my cheap seats in the stands you can't see who is taking the scrum down, but I simply don't believe it's our props every time!

    The decision to go for a line out when Wales had a lock sin-binned utterly infuriated me. You are either driving against 7 men, or if they bring another forward on then there's more space for our backs to run sideways at.

    The weather may have changed the gameplan a bit, but what stood out was our inability to hold a pass. The Welsh managed it, and we managed it last week.
    In that respect it was like the bad old days!

    Here's hoping the team we saw in Paris turn up in a fortnight against the Irish. Good players don't go bad over the space of a week.

  • Comment number 55.

    "it's no so long since EVERY visit to Murrayfield produced a similar showing, and we all sat through it then."

    I remember when tickets for the 5 and 6 Nations were like hen's teeth and now Murrayfield is rarely sold out. Why is that? Cost is partly to blame and not just for the tickets themselves, but the standard of play doesn't help. I was there for the dramatic win over France that heralded a new era under Frank Hadden. It wasn't new after all. I stopped wanting to go to see another confused humiliation. So did many others.

    Having got out of the habit of organising trips to Edinburgh, especially for Sunday fixtures, it would take a more convincing run of victories. Yes, we've beaten two of the top ranked teams in the World in the past 18 months, but remember the All Blacks.

    I started going to Murrayfield in 1968, went to Australia for the World Cup in 2003 and used to do anything I could to get a ticket. I didn't expect us to win, but there was always hope and some excitement to be had. Now I don't want to go. I desperately want our team to win and believe they do too, but the manner of their losses means the excitement has been replaced by dread and at up to £71-50, plus train, plus drowned sorrows, I'm not going to return for a while.

  • Comment number 56.

    Just to be clear, it's not disappointment I feel at that performance, it's anger.

  • Comment number 57.

    I was absolutely raging on Saturday. I thought we had turned the corner but that was showing was a complete disaster. Lamont is bang on, the players need a long hard look at themselves. Did the players choke under a bit of expectation or did they just panic under pressure ? Execution was woeful at times.... umpteen kicks going straight out, Anbsoro had a least 2 passes fired at his shoulders from close range, he's got no chance of taking those.

    Ewan Murray grinning at the camera is embarrassing, maybe you can get away with that when your the team that 20 pts up but not when you the team that's down and going backward in the scrum

    I felt sorry for the centres at times, its hard work to battle back to the gainline when you constantly get that ball 20 yards behind it. Why was the completely ineffective display from Parks rewarded with a full 80 mins ? actually I'm guessing it was 80 mins because I turned off before the final whistle

    for the next game I'd pull the plug on Murray, Kellock, Vernon, Lawson, Parks, Deluca & Southwell. but then I might not even bother to watch it.... its too painfull !

    My only consolation from Saturday is that I didn't spend 60 quid on a ticket and small fortune getting there and enjoying a day out.

    where have Stroker and Hamilton gone ?

  • Comment number 58.

    As an England Fan with a Scottish heritage I always cheer Scotland on when they play and Saturday was no different. Recently you could argue that Scotland have been punching well above their weight in international rugby with some amazing results against some of the best international teams. Scotland have some exceptional players at a young age and in the pack you could argue that they are individually the best of the British & Irish players at the moment.

    However, for some reason the players just lacked belief, that they threw everything at France and lost, they feel that its taken all confidence out of themselves.

    Still don't know what people see in Parks, he doesn't show any attacking intent and his running is mimimal at best as 90% of the he either passes or kicks, meaning the defence don't have to concertrate on him, they can drift across cutting the space outside him.

    I don't buy this idea about needing an extra team, if you look at England (Leicester & Northampton), Wales (Ospreys & Scarlets) and Ireland (Leinster & Munster) they have a solid base of players from two teams with a couple of players from other teams brought in. They have worked out that units that play at club level tend to succeed in national game (Look at how well Flood has come on since being paired with Youngs).

    However this is all good & talking about how to improve the game in general, I just think that the players need a good kick up the backside and a bit of a shakeup, with Gray coming back that should help no end and possibly the 3 Bee's making a return, I'm just glad England haven't got you in two weeks as that would be our toughest game (we never seem to do well against Scotland) and Scotland will be very dangerous in their next game.

    Good luck and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't beat Ireland and Italy.

  • Comment number 59.

    I have to say it was a very dull game of rugby. sad for Scotland they just didnt turn up, and Wales did (ish) theres more to this pressure than
    meets the eye. I guess we will see the real Scotland team in a fortnight but I have to say as a neutral i didnt see anything too scarey for us to worry about. But then again I guess Ireland said the same about Italy. Beware the wounded Scots.

  • Comment number 60.

  • Comment number 61.

    Speaking as a winger, I don't think I've seen a worse 80 minutes in the position at international level than Nikki Walker this week. Surely there must be someone else eligible to play for Scotland who's quicker than Simon Shaw and doesn't wear blinkers (I wouldn't expect to have been playing for a school team having missed out on that many overlaps). Parks was never going to be the right choice against the Welsh- he simply doesn't have the running game to be able to what Flood did last week and half-break past the rush (and at times doglegged) Welsh defence- compare with Flood's entire first-half performance last week.

    Sadly, Lamont appears to have hit the mark about lack of commitment- where's the Scots warriors blue with RBS woad fighting for each other like they did in the Autumn?


  • Comment number 62.

    I was saddened to see the Scots crowd leave early. The support of the crowd can make a big difference and if you give up on your team then don't complain about their lack of commitment.

    I'm an English cricket support and I've seen some dreadful matches over the years. But have the Barmy Army ever given up? No. When English wickets fall the Barmy Army sign louder. And it works. Ask any Australian cricketer what effect the Barmy Army had on this winters Ashes and you will see.

    So my point. SUCK IT UP SCOTLAND. Yeah your team didn't play well and they may not have shown the commitment you wanted BUT NEITHER DID YOU. You want your team to win, then put the effort in. It might not win you the match, but it might help win the next one.

  • Comment number 63.

    Ford and kellock to be benched by Hall and Gray, Beattie Jr to start with the other B's. De luca, Walker to eb dropped and replaced by Grove and Lamont S with Southwell being benched for P'son. We have 3 games until the RWC. We MUST find a 12. Jackson must start v italy and be given at least 20mins v Ir and Eng. Call Taylor, Stockosh, Dickinson and White into the training squad with Taylor certainly on the bench and poss white. Vernon is not ready. Ford is too comfortable, Kellock has no brain - he should have been YC for fighting (as the skipper he should know better).

  • Comment number 64.

    Look at every other team in the top tier and you can pick out at least 2 or 3 top quality backs. At least.

    Scotland are trying to win games with half a team.

    The SRU needs to be honest, and solve the problem of backs coaching at school and club level. They are being deserted. And it shows. If you have a small player pool then this is even more important to resolve. You cant keep rolling that excuse out. Solve the problem.

    The media have to get on the SRU's back. Not writing fluffy 'dont upset anyone at the SRU or BBC' blogs and hiding from the truth that has been slapping us in the face and eye gouging us for the last 10 years.

    And when the fans pay a fortune for a ticket, it is pretty harsh fingering them out for stick. You will take a dig at the fans before the SRU!!

  • Comment number 65.

    It's quite easy Euan Murray should never be picked again. The other teams know we are weak there as he either isn't going to be there or he isn't playing. He's not played well since he decided he didn't want to play on Sundays and he's rested on his laurels because even after deciding he is better than the rest of the team that he can pick when he plays he still is guaranteed a spot.
    Two games where we lost easy scrums and considering we could have won (or maybe run France close) with a half decent 3 it's obvious to us all where the problem is. Does Robinson think playing Murray will get him help off the big man upstairs, cos sorry to tell you even if he existed he'd want the best players playing not wasting their Sundays.

  • Comment number 66.

    There's a lot of praise for Sean Lamont's performance and I agree that he had a comparatively good game on Saturday and that his comments on commitment show how much he cares about the national team.

    However, we (and he) should bear in mind that he is also very prone to having the odd 'mare and Im sure his team-mates wont be too impressed with his comments when similar statements could have been directed his way in the past.

    On the plus side, he is great ball carrier and on his day can burst through defences, typically setting up others to score rather than finishing himself - just by the nature of the way he breaks through defences.

    But for a big lad, he has never been a great tackler (it seems he has to think about it too much, and Im not convinced that thinking is one of his strengths), and not just that, his positioning in defence is outrageous at times, exposing himself and others to unnecessary attacking threat.

    In attack, he seems to be a natural centre since, even when he is on the wing, he spends most of his time in that channel anyway. As someone above pointed out, he is never going to look to exploit gaps in the middle of the field, preferring to run at/through people to get through a defence.

    However, If he was tasked to defend in that position I think he would be a liability.

    Still, I dont see many other options with current injuries and would like to see him given a go at inside centre to potentially create some space for Ansbro, and would like to see Rory to come in again at full back. I dont like Sean playing FB and hoe he doesnt start in that position since, in my opinion, he leaves us open at the back too often due to his "hunger" to be involved.

    As for the game, I'm not going to think too much about it and hope the players put it behind them for the Ireland game (those that are still in the XV, that is). I hope the coach makes some deserved changes, but I'm not so sure that will happen in all cases since I still cant believe that Ruaridh Jackson got NO game time at all on Saturday.

    When Park's kicking game isnt sweet, he has nothing else to offer and he was clearly struggling after a few minutes and continued that way for the rest of the game, yet Jackson wasnt given a chance. I hope there were reasons for that, because that seemed a very poor management call.

    As one of the Welsh lads standing next to us said, sometime during the second half, "I cant believe we are watching two top-ten international rugby teams in a World Cup year. This is rubbish."

  • Comment number 67.

    First things first, you've got to say well played to Wales, they turned up determined to repay their fans and did so splendidly, Hook was excellent at 10, despite the press attention on him.

    For us it was a horrible game, nothing seemed to "click" gain line breaks seemed to be beyond us and our composure when in good positions was poor. I think at the start the two penalties which were kicked to the corner should have been kicked at goal. I always admire the ambition of kicking to the corner, but when you are down 16 - 0 at home it's important to get the scoreboard ticking. It was a number of poor decisions made during the game. Another cross field kick attempt was butchered later on. Much more composure and patience needed when we're at the business end of the field.

    Who's to blame? I don't subscribe to singling out individuals for blame, several players did not play even at their average level let alone their best. Perhaps we're just asking and expecting too much from our best players at times and it's impossible to expect them to deliver all the time, even Dan Carter has "average" days. Sean Lamont was a man on a mission, considering the season he's having at Scarlets not starting him is practically criminal!

    We've got to hope that Robinson acknowledges that changes need to be made and some players do not deserve their starting positions and give others a chance. Looking forward to have Johnny Beattie back, he was outstanding last season and we could do with his gain line breaks at the moment. I'd like to see Jackson get a start at 10, Ireland are giving Sexton the chance, we should do the same. Would also like to see Moray Low and Rory Lamont get a chance.

    Lastly, why has Colin Gregor never had a chance for Scotland?? I've watched him play many time for Glasgow in the Magners league and Heineken cup and he is a great player to watch, makes sharp breaks and offers himself as a support runner. Also, can play 10 and is a useful goalkicker!

  • Comment number 68.

    As a Welshman, I was naturally delighted that we finally managed to grind out a win. At last, the team managed to get that particular losing sequence off their backs and now maybe will start to believe in themselves a bit more - starting in two weeks time. I sincrely hope we can now see the true Wales that we all know the team are capable of, but seldom produce of late.

    As for Scotland, every team has a bad day at the office. A day when nothing goes right and the more you try, the worse it gets.

    However, I think you John (and all the other Scots supporters with the air of despondency),are simply hurt and not seeing the bigger picture. Yes, Scotland didn't perform as they are able on Saturday. However, I still feel that Scotland have made enormous strides over the last two years. They are now a team to be reckoned with. Remember that you still have a few players unavailable through injury that will come back and strengthen that side. But I still believe that Scotland have more than a good chance in their remaining fixtures. They simply have to put this game behind them and believe in their ability. They did not become a bad team overnight.

    Also, let's not forget that the 6 Nations is not the be-all and end-all this year. The main target is the WORLD CUP in the Autumn. Whilst winning the 6 Nations is a nice to have, I am sure that all of you would much rather settle for a good World Cup campaign than a good 6 Nations campaign.

    England are finding good form at the moment, but have they peaked early ?

    Ireland and France are both building quietly on their performances. Both side have players to come back from injury. The same can be said of Scotland (last Saturday aside).

    I am sure that if Scotland manage a good run in the World Cup, then this performance against Wales will soon be forgotten.

    The focus for all nations this year is the World Cup, not the 6 Nations. We all want to win every game, but we would ALL much rather be crowned World Champions if given the choice. Accordingly, the 6 Nations this year does not have the significance it normally has.

    Finally, Scotland wanted to win this game, Wales HAD to win this game. Therein lies the difference. Scotland ARE a good side, they just had a bad day. I very much doubt they will play that badly again this year (and let's be fair, Wales were not exactly world beaters this weekend either).

    Chin up boys. The main event does not start for another 6 months. The main aim for the rest of this 6 Nations is to find the line-ups that will take our respective countries the furthest in the World Cup.

    Scotland will frustrate (and beat) better sides than they lost to last Saturday !!

  • Comment number 69.

    Apologies for sounding so dramatic but I think it goes further than the 11/12 players that didn't perform on Saturday. As a nation we have an inability to perform at the highest level unless we are a wounded animal and have 'nothing to lose'. Cue the great performance against the English when we will be facing the wooden spoon.

    It is embarrassing that we will likely only really perform against the English out of some sense of 'braveheart'- type nationalism.

    Knowing we are unlikely to get £70 worth of utility out of our ticket to Murrayfield, the Runrig/Proclaimers rubbish that the SRU use as entertainment is also an embarrassment. Lets just have a pipeband at the start and then a team that can catch a ball whilst running at pace.

  • Comment number 70.

    I cannot believe the reaction to Saturdays defeat. Yes Scotland were poor, but, to sweep all the previously held optimism away in a sea of recrimination, blame and demands for completely overhauling not only the team, but the entire fabric of Scottish rugby is as perverse as believing that the encouraging form of Scotland in the last year makes them potential world champions.

    Anyone who has played sport at any level knows that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it just isnt your day. There is sometimes no reason for dropping balls, no reason why you struggle for timing, no reason why sometimes one day you run 100 metres in 9.89 the next day struggle to break 11 seconds, no reason why one day you shoot 66 the next day cant break 80. Only the very greatest retain consistent levels of superiority and even the greatest can fall apart for no reason (New Zealand's record in the Webb Ellis shows this). Scotland are not the greatest the world has ever seen, therefore why expect them not to have a bad day?

    Yes, the performance was poor, yes, the team can work on putting it right and will rightly be looking at themselves hard. Mostly importantly though, this was one performance in the midst of a lot of good encouraging ones. To lose sight of this in a wave of self flagellation can only be counter-productive.

  • Comment number 71.

    So disapointed...
    I thought, that's it after their game in Paris, they were sharp and scored 3 TRIES!
    Or was the French defence lazy??
    I was feeling for some guys on the pitch, some of them tried their best without success, but i was so annoyed with some "old devils" like "what am i doing with the ball" (except S.Lamont).

    Anyway there is not other way than giving all our support.
    No point to repeat things we all know, but i will point it again (only 2 pro sides with no resources, no money, not loads of players in the country, not popular enough...)

    Scotland are not World Champions, and have "only" 3 grand slams in their history.

    Nothing worked last saturday, a bad day...

  • Comment number 72.

    #62. Len, many people have put lots of effort in over the years and in recent times we have not seen any improvement. That was until Andy Robinson pitched up.

    However, during this season, and last month in particular, the man in charge of the Scottish Rugby Union, Gordon McKie, told me, via the pages of The Scotsman newspaper, that my money doesn't matter to him. He also told me, using the same medium, that our top players don't matter to him.

    If that is the way that the SRU is happy to treat its paying customers then I think I'll go spend my money where it is more appreciated.

    It seems from what John writes that the few remaining Scotland supporters finally gave up the ghost at half time on Saturday. Unlikely to see them back.

  • Comment number 73.

    My observations from the match on Saturday.

    Kick offs - DP was kicking 10m too far or not getting enough hang time, which meant that Wales were on the front foot from the start. You can not give Byrne the opportunity to kick the ball back, he has the biggest boot in the 6 nations.

    Tackle - rightly or wrongly DP will not dump tackle Jamie Roberts if hit up the channel, therefore he needed help from 6 or assigned "wood chopper". It was obvious that they were going to use Jamie R in the route 1 role to get momentum. We should have had smashed him in the first 5mins to provide the momentum our way

    Scrum - I don't know what has happened to Euan M. He is not firing. The hit was off. The drop from the second row on the contact is not coming through. Is he carrying an injury, all that tape on his arm looked like he is carry a shoulder problem.

    NO.9 The most important player on the field. Sorry R lawson service is too slow, his reading of the game is poor. You must command and lead from 9. The service to Parks is why he is sitting deep, Wales has a Blitz defence, therefore you need runners in channels 1,2 to hold the line before you go wide. Why didnt we get DP running on to the ball, runners on inside, chip over or through.

    Contact - time and time again, the second player in was not aggressive and low enough in the cleanout. I watched the All Blacks and see they go into contact but the second player in is smashing his own man and hits the tackler and player back to get the extra yard. We wait for the guy to go to ground, hit the contact area and clean out. This creates no additional yards, which gives the Scrum half the extra yard to move the ball wide, with players coming on at pace.

    Pace - Pick and Drive! Arggggg. You need pace on the drives, which means no static starts. Have Niki Walker or Hines coming from extra 5 yrds back and hitting the line hard with the secondary drive coming in, then pick and pop with the next wave coming in.

    Supporting the ball. Every game I have seen this year, we have players that don't back their own players to break the gain line so they don't ball follow. We have gain breaks so give them options left and right, we need support runners.

    Last rant - Ross Ford needs to be more dynamic. His hit rate and ball carrying is too low for international No.2. He is quick but he needs to get aggressive. He is 18st and could put Oz du Rant on his back side. He needs to up his contribution around the park.

  • Comment number 74.

    Biggles of 266

    I applaud your optimism however, particularly in team sport, you can win games by not being at your best - grindng out a result. We are not the best team in the world and if we are beaten by a better team then fine. COMPLETE AND UTTER CAPITULATION is not acceptable and if you pay £70 to watch it (or even just sitting at home) you have the right to criticise those wearing the jersey.

  • Comment number 75.

    John - I'd a look at the stats for the game
    Ignoring the score - which is hard to do - you'd have thought we'd have won the game. We made double the number of Welsh runs, ran 502 meters with the ball compared to their 239, made double their clean breaks, our line out was 100% and while we lost one scrum they lost 2!

    The stat that is not included in this record is ERRORS. If I remember right from the BBC coverage we made something like 19 errors and the Welsh were in single figures. So this error count goes some way to why we lost, without however answering the question as to why we made so many errors.

    The other thing the stats don't show is where we were playing the game. We may have ran the length of the pitch 5 times (a 1/5 of this by Lamont), but much of this was from behind our our 10 meter line till about half way. This goes for clean breaks as well.

    Parks did not have a great game, but interestingly we kicked just as much as the Welsh did, 31 times each. They just made smarter kicks.

    My conclusion - we lost the game in our decision making, and by this I mean primarily our on field decision making. So contrary to what everyone else is saying, I think we tried too hard, hence poor decisions and lots of errors. We were always chasing the game, forced things, and therefore made too many errors at critical times and in critical places.

    My other conclusion is that we're not very good at playing the Welsh blitz defence. Dan was too deep, so by the time the ball went wide to try and get around the blitz, the Welsh were on top of us. This was amplified by not getting quick enough ball from rucks - which is never simply the scrum half's fault - so we were unable to vary the point of attack to then create gaps in their line or go wide and get around them.

    Lack of support runners is a perennial problem, as are our knock no's.

    The solution is yes to make some changes to the 23 man squad, but not to panic. To pick players from the past is not a strategy for going forward. So great as they have been to recall White et. al. would not address the problem and take us forward as a team. I think we also need to pick on form - and on this basis I think it's too early to bring Beattie Jnr back into the team.

    Last thought - supporting a sporting team means IMHO that you don't leave early. Nor does it mean being uncritical. It does however mean something about always hoping, and seeking to play your part as a supporter in lifting the team while on the field or from defeat afterwards.

  • Comment number 76.

    The crowd left early on Saturday and Im sure many of us switched the telly off early aswell, as I did just before Williams went over the try line in the 70th minute!
    I simply couldnt take the utter embarrassment and abject play that I witnessed against an extremely mediocre Welsh side. One thing I will say is that the Welsh were hungry and were going to give us a game no matter what Scotland team turned up. Its just a shame that a really really poor Scottish side took to the field - not inspiring whatsoever.
    Players who should have seen their last game in a Scottish shirt should be Parks / Murray / De Luca / Southwell (how on earth has he got 52 caps??) / Walker / , and I think this is me being extremely kind not mention a few more...
    This was a bit of a disgrace on Saturday and Im worried that the English will do another Italian job on us and the Irish will run us ragged also. This would leave yet another depressing wooden spoon match-up with Italy who should be the whipping boys of the tournament if teams decide to stay away from a wrestling match with their front 5!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    First ever post for me: A Scottish rugby supporter, home and away, I was at the game and stayed for the duration, painful as it was. Several points to make;

    The Opposition

    Wales were solid and organised; no better than that. They made themselves hard to beat and asked Scotland to come up with something different to unlock their defence which we were sadly unable to do on the day.

    The Commitment

    I understand completely where John is coming from when he said he doesn’t believe there was a single Scotsman not trying his best on the day.

    Sean Lamont’s comments this morning however seem to suggest otherwise which is extremely worrying but nevertheless reflects the opinion of most bloggers or people I have talked to – we just weren’t up for it bar a couple of players at best. (Sean and Max)

    Technical Performance

    We had a bad day at the office for which there are no excuses.

    These boys are professionals and this is their job, day in day out. The weather was great, why oh why are we continually unable to catch a rugby ball which is the same size as a melon!? They should try catching a cricket ball coming at you at 90mph – seriously, the ball handling skills need to be stripped back to basics and built up again.

    The scrum has been well discussed, a refresher on the fact that it needs all 8 guys to be working as a unit to be competitive is mandatory as that was a 2nd string Welsh front row – and strikes against the head in the modern era of feeding at scrum time are unforgivable.

    Decision Making

    I like Ali Kellock a lot as Captain, brings an intensity that we have been lacking in previous years IMO.

    However, when a team is down to 13 men for 6 minutes minimum and 14 men for another 10 minutes you simply DO NOT take 3 points – can you imagine any other Tier 1 rugby nation doing this? No chance. They would have kicked into the corner, set up a platform and would have scored and converted a try as a minimum during this period.

    This decision delighted all the Welsh fans I was sitting with and no doubt gave the Welsh players a huge confidence boost – “they can’t even score against us when we have 13 men boys” must have been the conversation. I was going ballistic at this point.
    I also could go on about the lack of patience that we show when attacking not to mention the abysmal kicking that occurred from various parties– stop panicking for the love of God!!!!

    The Players

    Andy Robinson states that he picks on form; well in that case:

    Euan Murray is clearly not the player he was at the moment and needs to re-focus: missing the rest of the tournament is a must, irrespective of religious beliefs. Murray Low replaces.

    Nathan Hines – no worse than anybody else but Richie Gray deserves his place in the team and brings athleticism and an understanding with Kellock.

    Richie Vernon – not enough experience yet (great player in the making though) and has a habit of getting isolated and turning the ball over. Bring back Beattie Jnr or Strokosch who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth!

    Dan Parks – fairytale season last year for Scotland but with him at No.10 we are never going to worry an opposition with our backs – they are too deep and static when the ball is sent out the line – we need to be flatter and start throwing the ball a yard in front of the recipient for them run on to it. The French passing yesterday from Yaschvilli (no 9 I know) in particular was outstanding. Bring in Jackson or Paterson at 10.

    NDL – dropped for Sean Lamont. No explanation required.

    Hugo Southwell – dropped for Rory Lamont. No explanation required.


    Sean Lamont is spot on – he’s tired of being classed as a valiant loser, tired of losing full stop – we need to man up. We have a great coach who I have full faith in and believe it or not we have some genuinely great players now who should be able to compete against all comers.

    I am prepared to put Saturday down as an aberration, following a tremendous, but error strewn performance and loss to France and the previous 12 months which have shown great improvement across the board.

    However there are too many people saying the same things and we need to make some critical personnel changes for the Ireland match.

  • Comment number 78.

    A response to some of the comments I've seen written:
    * Lamont is not an inside centre and never will be. Does no one remember his forward pass to Kelly Brown in last year's fixture. That would have nailed the door shut on Wales. There was no pressure, no on-rushing defence and he cocked it up. He is a good wing. Let's leave him there.
    * The inclusion of any one player over another (Beattie in for Vernon, Gray in for Hines) will not fix everything, good though those players are.
    * The adage "if you're good enough, you're old enough" only applies if you are, actually, good enough. Both Jackson and Weir play some good stuff but also make mistakes. Are they good enough? Will there be voices calling for them to "never play for Scotland again" on the basis of a couple of bad games should they get the chance?
    * Murray hasn't become a bad player and, while I'd have preferred not to see him smile as he came off (my wife was a little shocked at my choice of language), he must remain in contention for the number 3 jersey. Preferrably after getting match hardened again.
    John as you say, there is a very small pool of talent in Scotland. Do you have any information / opinions on why the likes of Cairns continues to be left playing for the A team only a couple of years after Stuart Barnes was singling him out during one game as a possible future Lion? He always struck me as an intelligent player, one who runs good lines and while he isn't the biggest, his defensive positioning is always pretty good. Given the perceived lack of talent in the centres, he would seem like a good bet to throw into the mix. It appears that one bad game against Wales a couple of years ago has cost him.

  • Comment number 79.

    Fletchhero, I absolutely believe that everyone has a right to criticise, paying the ridiculous amounts asked at internationals these days doesnt give you more of a right to criticise, but does make the hurt even more keen! i just feel the reaction to the loss is getting out of proportion, especially when put in the context of the general improvement shown in the last two years.

    Theo at 75 makes some valid points about the statistics (yes I know I am setting myself up for lies, damned lies and statistics), and i cannot help but think that, had players done what they normally do, the game would have been won, hence the point about it just not being Scotlands day.

    The pattern of this game was very similar to that of Ireland's against France and also Wales against England, in that mistakes (or not making them at crucial times) determined the outcome, this time it was Wales who took advantage of Scotland's errors when in excellent attacking positions. In both cases the losers end up looking incompetent.

  • Comment number 80.

    Just read Theosportsfan's comments. Agree with "trying too hard". I always felt that was Chris Paterson's only real failing!

  • Comment number 81.

    "As for Scotland, every team has a bad day at the office. A day when nothing goes right and the more you try, the worse it gets."

    How many bad days at the office are acceptable before you get the sack? This performance wasn't a one-off-it happens with this set of players every 2nd or 3rd match for goodness sake!
    Time to get real, get rid of the time-wasters and get some momentum going-in the right direction, instead of sticking with same old faces and fighting rearguard actions on the pitch. I think Lamont has had a bellyful, just as much as we long-suffering fans. He has had a few iffy games himself, but at least he has had the bottle to say it as it is.

    As for the World Cup-it's a disaster waiting to happen for Scotland.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's not a matter of culling the squad. This is something engrained in the Scottish condition - across many sports. The errors were a result of a loss of bottle because people are starting to expect things from this team.

  • Comment number 83.

    "it's too early to bring Beattie Jnr back into the team. "

    He played well on Friday and has a few games under his belt now. I'd rather have him in the starting line-up than continue this experiment with Hines at 6.

  • Comment number 84.

    After hearing that Georgia have won there last 2 games by 60 points im getting concerned that there may be calls for them to replace us after the world cup, that is how bad Saturday was.

    What got me the most was the complete lack of composure and the amount of knock ons and basic handling errors.

    I think the performance hurts more as our collective optimism had been growing due to our recent run of results and performance only to be once again let down when we had expected a victory and a corner turned.

  • Comment number 85.

    The only problem with the players/squad is that they are now trying to be a team that they clearly aren't. Progrewssion takes time and development - and to go very quickly from playing ruck/maul rugby scoring few tries to playing an expansive game like the irish, french etc is causing alot of individuals confusion. They are playing a game they are not used to playing.

    Andy Robinson. Here is a clue. Stop filling these young guys heads with tactics. They have enough pressure to deal with. Let Scottish rugby do what we do best. Grind teams down with the forwards and let Parks control the game at the back making decisions at the RIGHT time.

    The players heads are filled with too much info and their brains are getting in the way. A scrum is not a complex thing. However the scottish team want to make it complex. Why?

    Simplicity is what Scotland need. A good hearts on sleeve performance against Ireland. A never say die campaign is what these young guys need. Just get fired up, pumped up, and be like sean Lamont....a machine that will take out anything that stands in his way. Simples!!!!

  • Comment number 86.

    A couple of thoughts on the various posts on your blog, John.

    A few years ago an inspirational film was made about a sporting hero. It was called Chariots of Fire and the central character was Eric Liddell, Scottish athletics and rugby internationalist. He was also a devout christian who refused to play sport on a Sunday. If Scotland had played international matches on Sundays in his era, would any of the posters on your blog have subjected him to the vile comments and snide remarks that Euan Murray is being subject to?


    Clearly Murray is off form and is currently not the player who forced the New Zealanders and the South Africans to repeatedly collapse their scrum in the face of enormous pressure in the Autumn of 2008. Victor Matfield once wrote that the Springboks were celebrating when he was picked for the midweek match prior to the Ist Test in 2009, as that meant he wouldn't be playing in the test match that Saturday. As Matfield noted "he was the one player we couldn't work out" on the previous years' European tour.

    He is not even the same player who was solid as a rock against SA last autumn. Fair enough. Criticse him for being off form. But kindly leave the religious remarks out of it.

    Wales worked us out very effectively and exposed the inability of our backs in particular to execute basic skills well under pressure. That has been a failing since time immemorial. Outside of the game against France in 1999, when John Leslie made our back line tick, and Gregor Townshend's try versus wales the previous year, we have (sadly) never been known as a team that wins games through dextrous skill and speed in our three quarters. It's not easy to see why...our kids grow up playing their rugby in appalling conditions most months of the year. It hardly encourages speedy slight of hand, does it? This disadvantage is becoming ever more pronounced as time goes by, given the reduced space and time available due to claustrophobic modern defences.

    We all know that on our day our forwards can stand toe to toe with anyone. We've done it in the last two years and the evidence has been there for all to see. What was so disappointing was the lack of leadership and authority in our backs to sort out the problems they were facing. Notwithstanding this, the idea to use huge height advantage on the wing by Parks kicking to the wingers, for example, was actually a valid tactic : it was just poorly executed, like so much of our game.

    Parks has been a match winner in tight, tactical, forward oriented games for us recently. Sadly, he is not the man to play ten if we want to develop our game into a 15 man effort. Imperfect though they are as yet, that means Jackson and possibly Weir getting their chance soon. They will lose us games we might otherwise win, but they are the future. I just hope that the first time Scotland lose a game with them at 10 that the so-called "supporters" on here don't bury them in an avalanche of criticism as well.

    Incidentally, I like the post of "Len" earlier.....the Barmy Army suffered many long days of watching their side being hammered by a dominant Australia and never for one moment stopped supporting their team. Some of our so called "supporters" should try following the same example.

  • Comment number 87.

    There has been lots of comment about our failure to score when they were short of players. I do not understand team's obsession with kicking to line-outs 5m from the line. When was the last time Scotland actually scored from one of those? Scrums and penalty moves surely offer a better chance of finding a bit of space. Tap penalty moves offer the chance of dummy runners and, if well enough executed, are going to be difficult to stop from 5m out. Modern rugby seems to have given up on the tap penalty move and it would be nice to know why. Surely the game is crying out for a bit of creativity in this department. It is not just from the first hit that a move could be developed and teams could devise a strategy to open up space.

    On the wider aspects of our awful performance we allowed ourselves to be out-muscled and out-thought by a very mediocre side. Desperate stuff and I am glad Lamont has lifted the lid on his personal frustration. Fans prefer to hear that than the meaningless platitudes of "seeking positives", especially when there are none to seek.

    A fresh start for Ireland, with challenges set for every unit of the team is needed and perhaps the coaches can earn some bonus points by applying some creativity to our play.

  • Comment number 88.

    Dan Park gets hammered what ever he does, so he can't win.... You can't blame him totally. I have good look around him, Lawson, some shocking and slow balls. I would stand good mile behind the game-line with some of the passes he was getting, De Luca not even going to discuss this joke of a centre. Would you pass the ball to him!?!?!?!?!?!? Give Dan a good inside centre and Scotland wouldn't be in this mess...

    We all now what the real problem is!!!! But SRU have there heads in the sand. WE NEED 4 PROFESSIONAL CLUBS AND A BETTER STURUCTED NATIONAL LEAGUE!!!!!!!

    Two teams 30 players to choice from!!!! Add foreigners into the pro teams and the numbers go down, it's not rocket science. Not enough full time players to pick from.....

    Ireland have 4 professional Clubs and Rugby is the third, fourth or even fifth choice in some parts of Ireland when it come to playing sports.

  • Comment number 89.

    I was at the game in Edinburgh and yes, I left early. I thought this best as the other option was to boo the team. I haven't seen so many mistakes in the Scottish game since Phil Godman threw about 3 interception passes to the Italians a few years back. So okay we complain about the players making constant mistakes that we don't see at junior club level but what about the crowd??
    The amosphere at any home game for Scotland is invisible! The welsh within the opening five minutes were singing, cheering and swaying- as for us- nothing! Even if we get some points we might here the odd verse from the proclaimers but that's it. Scottish rugby is boring away from the pitch. Let's take note of the other nations in the competition, especially in Rome Cardiff or Paris, where there's a celebration during the game- try or no try it's exciting to be there.

    Enough of this beige view on murryfield stadium and the crowd inside. Scottish football is rubbish but they have the best following in the world with the tartan army. Let's have this for rugby.

    Oh aye, no slow songs allowed like our out dated anthem. Up the beat!

  • Comment number 90.

    If Murray won't play on a Sunday because of his religious beliefs, then that is a matter for him, and I won't criticise him at all.
    However, it cannot be good for the team if (as is the case for the next 2 games) a different player now has to come in.
    It unsettles the side and causes problems for the coach.
    His form is such that a rest would do him good, and perhaps he should now be overlooked for the World Cup.
    His grinning at the TV camera (no matter what the context)after conceding a penalty was not clever.

  • Comment number 91.

    As an outsider I went to the game on Saturday.

    After 15 min the game was over and you could see that Scotland had no chance.

    Few things from my point of view:

    1. Pay 71 quid to watch a team play that look like that one would almost think the game was fixed!!!!!

    2. For the life of me is it possible to be against 13 men and you keep kicking the ball away????? and then only score 3 pathetic points!!!!!

    3. Its as clear as daylight some players just couldnt give a continental what happened on Saturday.

    4. I will not ever game and watch another game at Murrayfield and put myself through that again.

    5. Expect a real smack from the English.

  • Comment number 92.

    It was only one game! Aaargh, we are UP and then we are DOWN. Beat Argentina Australia and South isn't for ever, trust me, I've seen this before. Heading home after the Beeb and then back to this


  • Comment number 93.

    John this is the professional era now..... People pay a lot of money to watch Glasgow, Edinburgh and Scotland. The players are paid to perform, if they don't, take the slap coming. If you went to the King's and the actors "Couldn't be bothered" you would be going nuts about it and demanding your money back.

    I think it would have been a totally different game if Beattie Junior and Mr Morrison had been playing.


  • Comment number 94.

    #89, BenRankin7, that takes cash and with Gordon McKie in charge it is very, very unlikely to happen.

    #93, Alex, I agree with you but until Gordon McKie gets his jotters there is no way forward for professional rugby union in Scotland. However, when he does retire, get sacked or die of old age we will be so far behind the other nations that it will take a lifetime to catch up.

  • Comment number 95.

    There has been some comment on the size of the player pool and the fact that Scotland has only two professional teams. At the risk of being laughed off the park how about this thought:-
    Why not invite outstanding players from the 1st Div to train with the National Team without them having to turn full time professionals. I am certain that the possibility of obtaining a cap would inspire these guys and also give some extra focus on their efforts with their clubs. After all it wasn't too long ago that some of the finest players Scotland ever saw were only "part-timers". I'm willing to bet that at Scottish club level there are plenty of players of equal quality to the 2 pro teams members, they just have other priorities to being full time players.
    Maybe it is sentimental day dreaming but it would be great to think that you could once more walk down the streets of a Border town and bump into several past and present Internationals. After all even pro players don't spend ALL and EVERY day training.
    I learnt to play at school in Scotland over 60 years ago and my Mother was a Teri so I want Scotland to do well, even if it is only to stop the ribbing I get from my pals down here in Dorset!

  • Comment number 96.

    Sorry to hurt some "fans" there, but I'm really FED UP with people complaining because they PAID a ticket they have the right to ......

    I make the trip from France quite often, spending money YES, but shouted for Scotland untill the end of the game and never moaned about my purse.
    The only win i had the chance "to be part of" at Murrayfield was against Australia and I tell you, what a GREAT time of my life for a TENNER!!
    Even if Rugby is a pro game nowdays, IT IS STILL A SPORT!
    DO NOT FORGET the tickets are much more expensive in other countries!

    Moaning about a bad performance because we want a win OK, but if you pay for a game, you could "imagine" that you love this sport and are happy to support!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 97.


    I watched the game; it was a shambles. I felt angry and depressed for a good few hours afterwards.


    ...we're a team in transition. Robinson's brought a mentality and professionalism which the national team hasn't had or seen before. The players are - for better or worse - having to learn and adapt.

    But make no mistake; despite the torrid game which was full of errors, missed passes, poor decisions, missed tackles, bad kicks and general lethargy, there is in fact improvement simmering beneath the mask of depression.

    John, we do have a small player base and our resources are limited but that really is no excuse; it's XV vs XV. Simple.

    I do think that the closure or the Border Reivers was a mistake, and the reduction from 3 to 2 professional teams has damaged Scottish rugby's player numbers, exposure to potential viewers/players. Bring back a third team (or indeed a second) in the Borders and/or Aberdeenshire.

    As for the players: Murray's in decline and doesn't seem fussed, Dan Parks is a great player - or at least he was last year - but doesn't deserve to start now. Both Lamonts should start. REPLACE DE LUCA!

    I'm a loyal and ever optimistic Scottish rugby fan. I'm also a realist: we're improving; getting better and by the World Cup, after learning's done and changes are made, I expect we'll top our pool (England are peeking too early) and reach the semi-finals.


    Smile... Robinson's aboard until 2015. JUST GET ANOTHER PRO. TEAM GOING!!!

  • Comment number 98.


    I meant to write 'fourth team' instead of "second team".

    ALSO... just to reiterate my point of view; we are a wee country and comparatively we have fewer resources and players than others but WHO CARES. Someone, somewhere's always got more than you. STOP providing these excuses, get on with it and win. We should have higher expectations and so should our players, rather than ferreting for excuses and sob stories. We're a wee, passionate and awesome country and Scotland are capable of beating ANY team on their day. Robinson is a coup for Scottish rugby and will - I hope - allow us to discover consistency, professionalism and a genuinely higher expectation of and for ourselves which will reflect upon rugby and the wider Scottish consciousness.

    Rant over.


  • Comment number 99.

    Saturday was painful to watch, and it started during the warm up. Scottish Players were dropping passes in the warm up. And I'm not just talking 1 or 2 I am talking multiple passes, It looked an absolute shambles.

    I see a major problem in that members of the so called 1st XV are not playing regular rugby. Hugo Southwell looked like a guy seriously lacking in Match Practice because he is not getting in the Stade team. Dan Parks is not playing regularly for Cardiff. His kicking game is not as pinpoint accurate as it was last season. Take the cross field kick where Nikki Walker outjumped Shane Williams. That kick should have been aimed for the in goal area, not the 5 metre line.

    I'm going to say it and probably get slated for it, but I really do think that Central Contracts are the way forward. Pick 35 players who are the Scotland Squad. Have the SRU monitor these guys at the clubs. The clubs (particularly in France and England) are becoming too powerful.

    Sean Lamont and Richie Vernon both had good games. Mike Blair looked lively when he came on but the rest were quite frankly not good enough. Saturday's performance was totally unacceptable.

  • Comment number 100.

    32# That comment is bang out of order and I'm surprised it hasn't been "hooked". Try saying that to the thousands of supporters who travel loyally, and with pride, hope and loyalty - not only to Murrayfield but to the 5 away venues on a regular basis.


    When England were thrashed 5-0 in the ashes all the fans including me stayed there right till the very end of play after every test match. I find it disrespectful that you Scots left early. You stick by your team whatever the circumstances may be.


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