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Scotland need to beat Ireland to lift fans

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John Beattie | 17:23 UK time, Sunday, 20 February 2011

Who will win, Scotland or Ireland, this coming weekend? Should a Martian, newly landed on this earth, be asked his or her views he or she would say that Ireland are favourites despite Scotland's win last year.

Assuming Martians can be assigned a gender.

Bill Shankly, the superb former Liverpool manager, was incredibly misguided when he said that winning or losing in sport wasn't a matter of life or death - but much more important.

Fans of Ireland and Scotland will meet at Murrayfield desperate to see their national team win. Photo: Getty.

Fans of Ireland and Scotland will meet at Murrayfield desperate to see their national team win. Photo: Getty.

As it happens, the northern tip of the African continent is falling apart, there's a clip on the BBC's website of three blokes stealing a kill from under the noses of a pack of 15 hungry lions, we are about to have public service cut-backs the likes of which we have never seen before, Big Fat Gypsy Wedding got more viewers than the Brits, and my neighbour, a doctor, is heading back to A&E as I write this to mop up what's been left over from the Old Firm game.

Sport is mere entertainment and yet, as in all forms of entertainment, especially those which carry an awful lot of national pride, success takes on huge importance. A country can feel terrible if its team loses.

So, are Scotland up to the task of beating Ireland?

I'm a fan of Irish rugby, but grudgingly. Rugby in Ireland is sexy; the four proud provinces are performing, and the punters pay to peer in large numbers.

Munster's players, you feel, would do anything to win. Leinster players, in my view, have the best technique in the Magners League in terms of the breakdown and "shape" and perhaps only Jerry Garcia sang "Don't Let Go" with more volume than Connacht players, Ulster seem consistent in the middle of the table.

I can just imagine the Irish players almost frantic in their need to win a game in the Six Nations. It's a squad full of star players. You write a list that includes Jamie Heaslip, Brian O'Driscoll (I roomed with his uncle once), Tommy Bowe, and the new hard-hitting sensation that is Sean O'Brien and you get the feeling that the Irish can will start powering their way to wins.

By contrast, our game is now full of fans who doubt the ability of the players. The logic goes like this: we've signed one of the best coaches in the world, we pay the players to train and practise, they've won some big games, but now when they fail it means the players just can't be good enough. I don't buy that.

Sean Lamont's comments, where he said that the players needed to have a clear-the-air meeting, were, in my view, completely misconstrued. He was only calling for a heart-to-heart talk without the coaches there, which is healthy in my view. Very positive and by no means negative.

So, it's fascinating. The game takes on something more than just winning or losing. It's all about strategy, promises delivered, a test of players, and in some ways a test of support. Murrayfield is getting pretty quiet.

Scrums on Sunday will be inconclusive, in my view, as the French rattled both packs at set pieces - likewise lineouts. The Irish should have a marginal advantage at breakdown as they are incredibly smart there and both teams must, simply must, have a good idea as to how the other side is going to play.

In my view the key to the game is the 9, 10, 12, 13 axis and as I write this I don't know who is picked. It's a settled Irish midfield, and an unsettled Scottish one.

It's a key game, one that I think Scotland can win, but it will take a secure midfield and a significant increase in effort to get the victory we need.

What do you think? Am chewing my fingernails and can't sleep and it's still a week away.

John Beattie co-presents Sport Nation every Saturday on BBC Radio Scotland at 0900 GMT, and co-presents Sport Nation on TV, on the first Tuesday of every month at 1900 GMT on BBC Two Scotland.


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  • Comment number 1.

    The "Big" games you alluded to were either Autumn Internationals (Friendlies) or the mini-tour of Argentina. Yes, we ground out good results in very poor weather conditions, and that has to be applauded.
    But, here's the rub. When it really, really matters, in the Six Nation's or the World Cup-we just can't cope.
    If you could select a team just from the Scottish or Irish sides, which would provide the majority of names?
    This match will be so important for the future of not only this current tournament, but also the build up to the World Cup, that I feel that the side may choke again.
    I sincerely hope I am wrong. As always, I'll be supporting the lads, but I do get the feeling that if Ireland get ahead, we'll implode. Let's hope they don't, and we can get our momentum building once more.
    I forecast 3rd for this side before the six Nation's this year. So far (just look at the "points against column"), not so good. We'll soon see if they are "up to it".
    Finally John, if this was a team that played consistently well and to it's strengths on a regular basis-would you not sleep better? Perhaps your inability to sleep is linked to their inability to win!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hit the nail on the head John 9, 10, 12 and 13. Unfortunately, I can't see who Scotland are going to play in these positions to deal with the irish hard, angled running. Scrum half is a serious weakness for Scotland. Parks hides deeper as a result of the shockingly slow service and the backs go back and back and back. Without playing people out of position, such as Lamont at inside centre, we are weak in the middle. I think that the pack will have something to prove, the raw talent is there, but the back line (with the exception of the wings) needs an overhaul. There are players who could step up though. Morrison may not have been that creative, but he's been missed. Who would you select in these positions?

  • Comment number 3.

    John. I have great respect for you and during your career admired your agressive full frontal approach but i think it's time for you to nail your colours to the mast and instead of generalities, you should name names and state what your selection and tactics would be for the national team. (i understand having beattie junior as a candidate makes for a more difficult than usual choice to be made )

    there has been a media smoke screen around parks, particularly during his indian summer of penalty kicking last year. notably kevin ferrie and alistair reid have for years put an apologists' gloss on the frightened rabbit's performances. " man of the worls cup 07 series", we keep hearing. the fact is it's four years on from the last world cup and parks has proved incapable of moving to a higher performance level beyond the perennial one trick fearful pony he is. in reality, the last act of our mediocre performance in world cup 2007 was summed up by parks conceding possession due his ingrained need to kick speculatively to the corner which resulted in loss of possession against argentina. last saturday we saw the same behaviour pattern and against 13 men. frankly this is bordering on being criminal. last season we had the outstanding back row of the championship who provided parks with armchair rugby , still the inability to score tries by our backs meant we scrambled to avoid the wooden spoon. our chance to beat england went when parks shamefully kicked away possession 5 yards from the english line when all it needed was him to draw his man and before being tackled ship the ball out for the waiting overlap. it's just not in his genes to have the courage , daring, flair and wit to make the right decision. we outmuscled an over the hill argentinian team who got penailsed into extinction, even though in your commentary you were raving about how flat and adventurous parks was. then we won against the reserve south africa team. parks lacks any courageous leadership qualities in a critical leadership role.

    i refuse to accept the tolerance of mediocrity runing through some of the media. the bright note is that at last the worm is turning. gavin hastings and craig chalmers as examples have at last joined the enlightened iain morrison, andy nicoll and jim telfer amoung others in saying that with parks we are condemned to failure, lack of achievement and unable to capitalize on our possession.

    reading your blog during the past week you cannot fail to recognize the insightful critique of the scottish team notably the lack of creativity and flair from de luca, and southwell and the limitations of the lawson/ parks axis. still parks is at the heart of this underchievement. he lacks both physical and mental strength and reminds us more and more of being the rabbit that has just seen a stoat. he kicks ( often badly ) or shovels the ball sideways from deep, with never a hint of running with ball in hand and providing an essential attacking option.

    the hadden/ parks axis was rotten and andy robinson, whom i respect, is in danger of being dragged down by reliance on parks as a non play making, play maker. I have three east stand debenture seats but i stump up the £210 pounds because of my passion for and love of scottish rugby. i wish andy well in having the bottle to nail his colours to the mast and play the running rugby he espouses and bring in jackson, blair or weir. we simply have nothing to lose and frankly i'm becoming tired of having to write this sort of epistle to ease my frustration, any more.

    listening is one of the great attributes of great leadership. is anyone out there listening ? that includes not just andy robinson and his team but you john. your blog is here not just for you to tell but to listen. passion is running high as you must see from the insightful blogs of many similar minded scottish supporters. the parks game is a bogey !

    but where do you stand ?

  • Comment number 4.

    I commend h20 for his comments. An attacking back line in the professional era requires its stand off to lie flat if the team has any chance of breaking the gain line. Parks for all his 2010 heroics is incapable of this and we must look elsewhere as a consequence.

  • Comment number 5.


    The 9,10,12,13 axis are key for the Irish, but need not be so for us. I'm for playing this one as a game of nine man rugby - call it taking a step back in order to go forward. Let me explain my rational.

    At the beginning of the Six Nations I took a trip from Glasgow to Netherdale to watch Scotland A v Irish Wolfhounds. After the first quarter of the game I was worried the Irish were going to post a cricket score against us. Their three-quarter line were great, ran good lines and cut us to pieces. We tried to match fire with fire and just got burned.

    The second half was a different story. I don't know if it was the coach or the players who called the change, but in the second half we played nine man rugby. Kept the ball with the forwards, Moray Low scored a try. The Irish were starved of ball, we controlled the game, the started to make errors due to pressure, which then let our backs into the game an wee Heff from Glasgow Warriors scored a fine try when McKenzine stole the ball, broke the line and passed so someone with more speed in his legs.

    We need to learn from the A game and adopt a similar strategy. Play tight from the start, get the score board moving in our favour. If we've got a decent lead come the last quarter then we can try and play a more expansive game, but not before.

  • Comment number 6.

    It would be nice if we didn't make a dog's dinner of our own national anthem again. The players and staff weren't to blame for that! Did some sneaky Welsh element chirp up 3 seconds ahead of the band's time to throw that spanner in the works? Devious psychological warfare, or what?

    Come tae think of it, could the band no' speed up a jiffy or two? Cripes, their tempo was like a funeral march! I'd have lost my rhythm, fallen asleep and had premonitions of disaster if I had to play after listening to that pig's ear of a rendition.

    Aye, John, Murrayfield is getting too quiet for my liking also nowadays. Let's get the stadium packed to the rafters, give it the vocal chord laldy for the full 80 and provide Scotland with a 16th man to be proud of.

    At 10 we need to take a leaf straight from the Welsh Hook. Err.... sorry, book! Make a change there, give us all back our wills to live and tell the playmaker to err on the conservative side until we've settled down in to the game a fair old bit.

    And please, please, please let's drop this dreadful habit of losing a daft try in the first few minutes. IT'S NOT FUNNY ANY MORE!!!

  • Comment number 7.

    PS: The fans need to lift Scotland to beat Ireland, too. We're all in this together!

  • Comment number 8.

    John I have massive respect for your opinions on european rugby.
    But however been an Irish fan I think you flatter an Irish midfield that has failed in defence and attack in recent games. I don't like name bashing players or players numbers but midfield in respect of a 15 metre line is very exposed there for scotland to expose. I think you are purposely playing down a well deserved scottish win.

    Scotland need the ten from the bench to start.. Blair too.
    Scotland 30-15

  • Comment number 9.

    Dan Parks just is not capable of feeding the back line ball, I would try Jackson, D Blair. What have we got to lose? World Cup is round the corner. We should have given these guys solid game time months ago. Even if we stick with Parks he is ancient and what are we going to do after that?

  • Comment number 10.

    Having just watched Dan Parks on the Brian Moore mouth challenge! I think he needs to try a different sport. It seems quite sad that two great teams are so dire, but i guess all the teams go through it. Ireland are very pedestrian and Scotland seem to be in tatters, Home advantage is only an advantage if the supporters make some noise, come on Scotland SING. I have to agree with captain midnight the band needs a rocket and I thought the National anthem was dire.... compared to the last rendition of FOS God save the queen is a veritable disco anthem!!

  • Comment number 11.

    h2o - I agree totally

    We have now missed our chance to get others into the role. Yes Parks does a job, but we have lacked any back line strengths for so long, it is now a running joke.

    We will be going into the World Cup with a (poor) plan A and no plan B, as we do not have the options. Sometimes you have to throw the dice and give a youngester a good go at it.

    I also think the Murray should not be taken on the plane for the world cup unless he sorts out his attitude.

    To be totally destroyed in both games and come away smirking really made my blood boil. At the moment he is not good enough, with the wrong attitude and not even available for half the games. No ticket for him

    We need to be brave. I would prefer to lose most games, but play in a style that is exciting and daring, and could score lots of points (fiji for example) than play dross boring rubbish that scares no-one (and still lose)

    We are going backwards at such a rate of knots and a few 'lucky' wins over the southern teams does not make a good team (I was at the Australia game in 2009 - we were terrible, and we hold that up as an example of us progressing!). It has papered over the cracks and given us excuses for our performances

    Another bug bear is the lack of coverage or support by the media. It is almost impossible to watch any Scottish rugby, and if you do you need to know a langauge that no-one really speaks. How can you foster support when the TV, newspapers and reporters ignore it totally.

    I am getting so depressed with our teams, which I think most fans are - even us die hards are beginning to lose faith. We need to sort it out, otherwise it is going to be the death of Scottish rugby

  • Comment number 12.

    John, when are you going wake up and realise that until we fix what is wrong with Scottish rugby we will only ever live in hope and expectation.

    SRU need to market pro rugby to the local people and get more people watching the pro teams.

    The clubs, particularly the Premier clubs, need to get their league structure in order.

    The youth development needs to be seriously looked at both from the structure and the coaching perspectives.

    Currently, our national team is playing above its true level and that is because we have a good coach. However, the strength in depth is not there and one injury (or bug) can cause us untold damage. This situation exists because we have not invested in the right areas, marketing, coaching and club development.

    Getting back to Sunday, the Irish are just too strong for us to compete. Did you see the way that they were patient going forward and effective in defence, particularly the clear-outs at the ruck. Going forward, they were passing to players on the move close to the gain line giving the defence less time to react.

    Overall, an Ireland win. A Scottish win just puts more paper over the cracks.

  • Comment number 13.

    #7 How can the fans lift the team when more than half the crowd will be Irish?

  • Comment number 14.

    RE: Bill Shankly quote

    Hi John - I fear you may have taken Bill Shankly's quote out of context. If you can locate the footage of Shankly saying his "life and death" quote (I would but I don't have the technical know-how to rip a segment off my LFC history dvd and plonk it on Youtube), he is clearly saying it with tongue firmly in cheek. He had just been asked to describe the passion of the Liverpool support (and the noise made by The Kop in particular) and with a hint of mischief produced that infamous sound bite.

  • Comment number 15.

    Rickysports, I totally agree. I want to see Scotland play a more free-running and cavalier style of game, even if it means losing tight games we'd otherwise win. I just can take the current style any more. It's sending me to sleep and the Murrayfield fans are voting with their feet.

    Philip at #13. I hope that won't be the case. However, irrespective of our current form and our form over the past few years, I'm certain that the Scottish fans are the least vocal of all the Irish and British supporters. And it shows. We really need to do something about that and liven things up good and proper.

  • Comment number 16.

    One of the keys to beating the Oirish must surely be more composure and patience on the ball.

    All too often we seem to press a panic button due to some self-defeating form of impatience and we're giving possession away far too cheaply.

    If in doubt, then there should be no doubt. Simply take the ball resolutely in to contact again and recycle it.

    Even if it takes us 30 frantic phases of possession and mayhem to get over the line, we shouldn't be choking with something daft on the 29th phase.

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry to pipe up again lads, but does anyone know which day the team selection will be issued to the public?

    If Parks is starting at 10 I'm gonna have to avoid bridges and cliffs for a while. Or maybe I'll just go fishing on Sunday afternoon instead.

  • Comment number 18.

    Riskysports at #11 - Completely agree with your view on TV coverage. It is bizarre that a sport not associated with Gaeldom is only available in Gaelic (apologies to Stornoway & possibly Mull RFC).

    As far as support at Murrayfield goes, I'm not sure what has happened. The 'famous' victory over the Aussies in 09 was loud, as was the closing stages of the victory over the Sprinboks in the autumn. However, I was also at the French game in last years six nations and we were completely drowned out by the chorus of 'Allez les Bleus'. It is a standing joke in our household about the flat chant of 'Scotland' or Scauuutlaaand as it sounds. I'm sure the performance on the pitch is the key to generating the support, but it would be nice to be able to give a bit of impetus to the team instead of doing a Mexican wave (which is really embarrasing).

    It doesn't sound like Mr Jackson had much of a game against Connaught on Friday (yellow carded), so now what?

    7,000 spare seats against Wales, SRU say they have sold more than 63,000 against Ireland (leaves only 4,000). The Sunday Herald said yesterday there were 35,000 available for Italy... They were comparing this to the full house at Twickenham (82,000) for the corresponding fixture.

    Just read too that Ansbro is out due to concussion in his weekend game.

    So, can we beat the Irish? - of course we can, but only if they play like we did against Wales.

  • Comment number 19.

    #15. I fear it may be the case as Scotland's support has dwindled somewhat over the last few years whilst the Irish have grown theirs.

    Also, what do you suggest we sing when are, er, winning? The Irish have Molly Malone and Fields of Athenry, the English have that silly cart and the Welsh have just about every hymn in the book.

    #17 Usually Wednesday or Thursday afternoon. Keep clear of the whisky bottle as well!

  • Comment number 20.

    #19 Jonny were's your troosers?

  • Comment number 21.

    Where's all the Parks hatred coming from? Yes, he had a stinker against Wales, but was he alone? He was probably the most consistent performer in the autumn tests, he certainly played the conditions on the day against South Africa perfectly.

    People moan about an unsettled line-up and then advocate giving him the hook after one bad game. (I didn't see much wrong with his kicking in the France game).
    If he is such a bad player, how come his club side are well above the Scottish teams in the Magners league, and had a better showing in the Heineken cup too?
    Maybe having an Aussie accent and pulling on the dark blue with a thistle generates some sort of allergic reaction for him?
    Or is it more the fans that are allergic to an Aussie accent and a Scotland jersey?
    Laney got similar treatment, and it can't be coincidence that the imports get a harder time when they have a bad game.

    The simple fact is that he's the best 10 we've got at the moment, and I think the Wales match is our 6 nations equivalent of the NZ match in the autumn tests, it was our off day and we got punished for it.

    I don't expect our players to be as bad on Sunday as they were last Saturday, but then the Irish have been off colour of late too and they might be about to come good.
    Let's hope both teams have a return to the form we've seen the players churning out for their clubs, and we can stop this moaning about fans voting with their feet!

    John, you might need a swift recap of your pre-tournament blog about the 6 nations tournament being about more than just the scorelines though!

  • Comment number 22.

    We usually muster a bit of noise with Loch Lomond (Runrig version!)

  • Comment number 23.

    #21 I do not think it is hatred, just a feeling that his limitations is one of the reasons we have gone backwards.

    Defences know they do not need to mark him, so have an extra man covering. They target him in attack so they have an extra man left

    I do not hate people for trying and not being good enough, I get depressed though that we have been having this converstaion for 6 years and still do not have any options / tactics or backline

    I fully support the Scotland team, and will be shouting myself horse on Sunday again, but this does not mean I think we are in a terrible situation

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    It should definitely not be hatred.
    I guess as the so called play maker in a team that time and again fails to score or even look like scoring then the fickle finger or blame has to point somewhere.

    Given that I have just about calmed down since the Welsh game (and that was anger at the whole team from me!), I now still cringe with embarassment that we were unable to score against a team of 13 men given what they did to us in the same fixture last year - albeit it was later in the game when tiredness kicks in.

    It's the needless kicking away of the ball that really drives me mad. It's difficult not to blame the same one individual for complete lack of composure in a game that centres around ball retention these days.
    1. Scotland v Argentina in the world cup. We're camped on their line recycling time and again. Then Dan get's ball, speculative kick when noone expects it. Then we're on the plane home.
    2. Scotland v England last year - same thing, same result.
    3. Scotland v Wales last year - Dan drops a goal. We had been well on top of the Welsh and actually had an overlap at the time - it was right in front of me, I know this.
    4. Scotland v Wales this year - against 13 men, he launches a kick to the corner and runs out of talent just when he needs it most.

    Keep it in the hands man!!

  • Comment number 26.

    A regular number of points made so far, all very valid as well. Before adding to it, I think it's important to clarify the power and passion behind our anthem (One which other nations, close and further afield are envious of). Tempo doesn't make something rousing!!! Rushing through a deliberately paced song, merely kills the impact of the words and the message!! Next time... have a think about the meaning as you sing and dare to dream a little, of the prospects that such words aim to inspire. (Just to dispell any fears/concerns etc...I'm not an SNP official).This fixture always throws up a small dilemma for me - with a Scottish father and Irish mother, both teams are given level support from the family. Sunday will again, cause some mixed emotions, although my nerves and heart always point me in the right direction and I'm hoping for a vastly improved Scots performance.There are many differences between how the two countries view the sport and, like you John, I grudgingly admire the Irish set-up behind the national level of the sport. However, we're not so far apart in personnel. Our forwards have been a wholly disgrace, as a unit and, possibly optimistically, I am anticipating a ferocious response on Sunday. It is also true to say that the midfield will be key in this game and as long as we deal with the basic: taking the ball with momentum, choosing to take contact when support is available and put passes in front of players, I honestly think we have the muscle to make the gaps count. Ansbro has been a real find and in the absence of Morrison (who's presence has been sorely missed) I think we have a very accomplished centre. However, I would move him to inside centre. Furthermore, despite the enormity of the game, it is time to give Jackson his start. If there is no other stand-off being given time with the squad, with a World Cup around the corner, and only a limited number of minutes under his belt, surely it is nescessary that Jackson is unleashed/given a baptism of fire.Finally, as another side note from the team, I fully agree with the views on the noise level in Murrayfield. For the last 15 years (although my support of Scottish goes further back) I've felt that, despite our famed hospitality, we simply allow other teams (particularly Wales and Ireland) to treat it as another Home match. Fireworks etc... only set a tone, which must be prolonged. Again, with every point there is a 'flip-side' and I concede that there are no other rousing songs (where are our 'Bread of Heaven' or 'Fields of Athenry?'). Perhaps, as an incentive and opposed to the ludicrous notions of 'trialling other national anthems' or 'speeding it up a bit,' the SRU canvasses for some alternative songs which could be printed in programmes.

  • Comment number 27.

    #21 Dan Parks has started 6 Magners League matches for Cardiff and Ceri Sweeney has started 8 Magners League games.

    Ok, he has started 5 Heineken Cup games to Sweeney's 2 starts in other games as well.

    But, that must be part of the problem, not getting as much game time.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hey AbzAli go look at the master parks passing skills on the six nations challenge, it says quite a lot that Nathan Hines does soo much better than the Scotland stand off. As a proud Englishman I really hope Parks plays against us. I have said before on these pages that I worry when Scotland, Wales and Ireland play badly before they run out against England as we have slipped on that banana skin in the past, but I dont think so this year. England do seem focused and very fit where as Scotland just look dazed and confused. The lines they run are lateral, the forwards look light and as for the smirking Euan Murray I think it sends the wrong message to the opposition. I was glad the Scottish team was angry about their performance but i suspect Ireland will be to good for Scotland.

  • Comment number 29.

    Well, after all that, it looks like my thoughts on the midfield are to be wasted as Ansbro is unavailable and a player I felt should have returned to the line-up (R. Lamont) is also injured.

    To top it off, it seems that all the paragraphing from my previous posting has been eradicated, after my telling off for some choice words, when I initially tried to post in #24. So my apologies to those reading and a thanks for making it look like an English teacher can't paragraph appropriately.

  • Comment number 30.

    mikeathers - yeah I saw that. Maybe Brian Moore's mouth isn't as big as the rest of his head?
    Good job it wasn't a kicking challenge or some of the cars in the background could have been in danger...

    John - you mentioned in a commentary a while ago that Dan never practices kicking? Was that correct?

  • Comment number 31.

    #30. Yes, I heard it too and my first thought was "If he practised he might be better at it."

  • Comment number 32.

    Do we really have no 10's? We must have some in the premiership 1 as well as the guys from the pro teams? Scott Wight from Melrose, Rory Hutton from Hawick as well as Jackson, Weir, Blai'rs etc.

    They may not be Dan Carters yet, but they never will be or get close to be unless they are given a chance, but surely they're worth a crack.

    Parks is not first choice for his club, so why is he first choice for Scotland? He should be brought on for the last 15 mins like O'Gara is for Ireland at the most.

    We are not going to win the 6 nations this year or for the foreseeable future, so what have we got to lose???

    Give the young lads a chance and clear out the dead wood.

  • Comment number 33.

    What i think the Scotland team should be v. Ireland-

  • Comment number 34.

    You poor lot! are there any players left who can play? I have had a quick look in my office and wee jock Mcplop is cleaning his boots and sharpenng his studs for the game, If John has his boots he might get a game as well, it just goes to show the world Will give you a kick when your down. So I am going to shout for Scotland at the weekend. Care to join in??

  • Comment number 35.

    Double names didn't work to well so i'll list it out in a line!!!!
    What i think the Scotland team should be v. Ireland-

  • Comment number 36.

    Wheres Mc Plop!!

  • Comment number 37.

    I'll be honest i've not seen him play. I'd have to analyse video footage of him and decide whether to use him as a bench, impact player or not! Remind me is he a back or forward?

  • Comment number 38.

    As i've said before, Parks is very good tactically, but the problem now is that the opposition is fully aware of how to take him on. The result is that he's put under considerable pressure by a fully aware opposition and before we know it he's not capable of delivering. This is as much a fault of poor defending for the number 10 as it is a problem with Parks. A godlike number 10 would likely have just as much trouble performing given that the line up can be shoddy at times.

    Generally it's far too easy for people to jump at Parks at any opportunity whatsoever. This occurs more within the Edinburgh line of supporters, since Glasgow have been quite happy with his results and ability (and his very much missed). Edinburgh fans meanwhile jump down his throat when he doesn't deliver and demand he never gets another game. Then hypocrisy occurs when he does deliver. Funny how the fans attitudes can change so quickly!

    Either way I do agree that we might as well blood the newcomers, especially Jackson, as he is our future option in this area. Blair (the other Blair) needs some time on as well. The Ireland game should really be looking towards trying out new players and experimenting. We might surprise ourselves. Might.

  • Comment number 39.

    Yes i'd like to see David Blair on the bench as i feel he offers quite a lot in attack!

  • Comment number 40.

    Instead of throwing D Blair, Jackson or Weir straight into them number 10 playmaker role, could Andy put them in at 12?
    This is where Hook, Flood and Giteau started their international careers and it may take some pressure off Parks.

  • Comment number 41.

    How about:

    Jack Cuthbert
    Sean Lamont
    Max Evans
    Alex Grove
    AN Other (When is Tim Visser available?)
    Roo Jackson
    Greg Laidlaw


  • Comment number 42.

    What I think we'll get is:

    S Lamont
    M Evans
    De Luca
    M Blair

  • Comment number 43.

    I'd like to see Ford play with a lot more fire in his belly. He looks like he's just going through the motions at the moment.

  • Comment number 44.

    Yes Ford Jacobsen and Blair were all rank rotten last Saturday and how anyone can defend them is beyond me!

  • Comment number 45.

    With regards to the trio of injuries. I don't think Southwell would/ should have got in the starting team. Rory Lamont is a class player but always injured, a shame but fact. Joe Ansbro played well against France and I think will be the biggest loss. We are now in a position that we love (although i'm getting tired of always being in that position!)underdogs with nothing to lose!

  • Comment number 46.

    Agree about personality losses Rab
    However "Nothing else to lose"?
    How about even more self respect, tournament points, spectators, international standings?

  • Comment number 47.

    A lot of those we have to believe will eventually come! I agree the biggest concern is Spectators at the moment. We're a loyal bunch but with high ticket prices and poor games (e.g. New Zealand, Wales) you can understand people not wanting to pay money for tickets and just settling for watching at home! I remember Murrayfield used to be so difficult to get tickets for. For the Wales game it took ages for the crowd (me included) to get going and you can't blame us. The players have got to give us something to cheer about. So many away fans there as well and I find it a bit embarrasing. Come on Scotland get us cheering again- i've still got faith!

  • Comment number 48.

    If De Luca is selected O'Driscoll, D'Arcy will have a field day!!!! can't tackle, can't pass the ball, can't retain the ball in contact!!!!! You would be better playing a newly born baby at 12 instead of him, baby would have more impact.

    M Evans
    M Blair

  • Comment number 49.

    For God's sake please play Grove and Jackson!!!

    They play well each time they get on, tackle with heart, and actually run straight!

    I am sure that I am not the only Scotland fan down in London who is tired of the yearly pre-tournament Scotland hype (this year they might just do it...etc) and subsequent embarassment.

    Let the boys, and us, the fans, wear the shirt with real pride!


  • Comment number 50.

    I am a bit worried....

    Six Nations: Scots look to reduce error count

    Does it really take a video analyst to come up with our one big flaw?

    "it was the amount of times we lost ball when it was within us to keep the ball"

    "We need to be a low error and a low penalty team to compete with the teams we play against"

    Is this not basic stuff? You start from this level - no errors, keep the ball, no penalties.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think we are moving forward although slowly. We now have a world class coach who is frustrated because we cannot produce the consistant performances we need. He beleives in Scotland and its players and we should do the same. The difficulty for most supporters is they dont cheer because there is not a great deal to cheer at present!!. Unlike Wales although when they fall behind in some games they never give up and always continue to run the ball and sometimes that gets them back into games as they did against us last year. We have tried to change our game under Matt Williams and that didnt work then we had partial sucess under Hadden but i believe that we have moved forward in a big way under Robinson and with the players he has now got coming through we will see a different Scotland probably not this season but next year. Its not just about Parks although i even heard the Welsh were going to target him which they did and we didnt protect him as a team or adjust our tactics to counter that. I do feel we rely on him to much and we should start to look elsewhere. So come Sunday i will be cheering Scotland on regardless and as far as the singing i think we should look to change the National anthem to Scotland the brave it is uplifting and gets everyone going. I do like Flower of Scotland but i feel its a bit slow although it does stir the passion. If we can get Beattie who made a massive difference and Morrison and Gray fit again back in the side we can compete with anyone. Lets get behind the team win or lose. Cmon Scotland !!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    47YEAROLDMADMAN- well said, some good points!
    I for one love Flower of Scotland and know people around the world like it!

  • Comment number 53.

    Your right John, midfield is where the fight will be won or lost. I think our pack needs to front up, more than they did against the Welsh and keep the ball.
    It will be a slog, our forwards will want to keep the ball in the pack, and the Irish will want to spread it wide to their strike runners ( Back row included). I think a change of personnel in the backs would have been in order anyway, despite the knocks some of the guys haven't recovered from.
    I would have my backs as...

    15.Jack Cuthbert
    14 Niki Walker
    13 Alex Grove
    12 Sean Lamont
    11 Max Evans
    10 Parks
    9 Lawson

    I think by having a solid midfield, big hitting Lamont and solid Grove would slow the ball down enough to allow our back row to gain possession back. I'd also bring on Jackson after about 60 mins once we have our rhythm and Parks has done his kicking,just to unsettle the Irish somewhat, before grinding out a win.
    I think the key will be the counter-attack... an area where we actually showed a bit of gusto two weeks ago. If we can counter well, dont give away penalties in our red zone and make the Irish deal with pressure, we can take this. But, it is going to take a fine balance of precision, pressure,tactics and the luck of the bounce to ensure it!!

  • Comment number 54.

    The Oirish seem to have two anthems played before each match. That's a bit greedy, isn't it? Why can't they make their minds up and settle on just the one?

    The Scottish crowd have been singing FoS out of time with the band since forever. Oh dear, oh dear. Just how useless are we?! Ha-ha-ha! It's obvious that the band need to speed up a whisker because the entire crowd naturally don't want to sing it that slowly.

    Just look at the players' faces when FoS is sung out of time with the band! Which is virtually every time they play. Most of them look confused and awkward as if to say "It's all gone out of synch again, hasn't it?"

    Personally I prefer Scotland the Brave. But anyhoo.

  • Comment number 55.

    Sean Lamont was the man of the match in the recent Scarlets v Ulster game. He really is on form at the moment and I very much hope that he gets a starting place against Ireland.

  • Comment number 56.

    Just skimmed through the Munster Edinburgh game from the other night. There is some good stuff going on there, stand off Blair has some really great potential and so does Laidlaw. I hope there is a close eye on the half back partnerships available and they are able to see when there is something with more promise than the OK but struggling current setup.

    I think Paterson would steady things a bit at the back and give some extra leadership. It may help the backline loosen up a bit and be more creative.

  • Comment number 57.

    Nearly everyone in the Scotland team had an off day against Wales, so it may seem unfair to single out Dan Parks. However, stand off is such an important position that any mistakes made by the #10 are always going to be much less forgivable simply because they are so influential in determining the outcome of the game. There is no-where to hide at stand off.

    Dan Parks has had plenty of opportunities to prove that he can be an international #10 and, unfortunately, too often, he has had games like the one he had against Wales. So I really don't think it is hate that is directed at Dan Parks, but that a lot of people have run out of patience with him and what he has to offer. Moreover, he is not at the start of his career and does not represent "the future" of Scottish rugby, so i think there is a natural tendency of people to want to see someone out there who does represent the future and can potentially offer something more than Dan Parks.

    Oh, and as a final comment, there is a near continuous debate in most countries about who should play at stand off, e.g., Hook v Jones, Sexton v O'Gara, Flood v Wilkinson it is not just Scotland and Dan Parks.

    realized that he has a limited amount to offer at 10, is not a young kid with potential to develop, and would therefore like to see someone else given a cahnce

    that does not represent the future of Scottish rugby, so they want to see something different

  • Comment number 58.

    The previous comments make loads of sense. Don't want to repeat myself too much as I might get confused with Keith Wood, but what is going on at scrum-half?

    OK, Parks only has one game and the Welsh were too tough for him, but what did our backrow do about it? O'Gara has been targetted as a weakness before, but coaches are aware of his frailties in defence and they adapt the roles of the back row to minimise the damage. Back row were absent against Wales and Parks paid the price. His ridiculous positioning was a result of that and the awful display by Lawson. Blair is better, but it is a worry - can Laidlaw fill this gap or is he too wee??

  • Comment number 59.

    It carries a lot of clout when someone like Gary Armstrong says it's maybe time to give Laidlaw a chance.

    Is Stringer too wee? I wouldn't say so judging by his impressive contribution to Irish rugby over the years.

  • Comment number 60.

    I agree, I just got the impression that he (Laidlaw) wasn't being taken seriously for a place because he is lightweight. I do like Blair (Mike) and just wish he would get his old form back, but it doesn't look like it. I feel sorry for Parks, but the game tactics need to allow him to play or he needs to be benched.

  • Comment number 61.

    If we blood a few 'new' players then 1 or 2 of them will rise to the occasion. But the WC would be too late for that.

    I think the chemistry and flow of our backline as a unit needs to be addressed. Parks' game is very limited overall, but he does offer a good tactical kicking game. Except he clearly isn't kicking well at the moment.

    We do have some powerful runners and the tricky Max Evans, except our running game is being badly stifled by Parks. And they aren't asking enough questions of the opposition backs to create the opportunities in broken play where they could cut loose more.

    I'm no expert. Not by a long shot. But our current style is sending me to sleep and I feel me must experiment with more creativity and flair in the backs now. It's a shame we're missing Morrison and Ansboro, but that's sport.

  • Comment number 62.

    Ref: h20


    Your comments are entirely accurate!! I could not have said it better myself!

    If only we had reporters in the Scottish media who could/would report as accurately and without fear or favour as you have.

    JB it's over to you....

  • Comment number 63.

    A wee bit of a rant on the way here
    Parks needs to go if we are going to have a team in 4 years time, never mind by the time the world cup arrives.

    The tickets prices need to be dropped to remove some of the "stuffiness" from Murrayfield. A lot of my friends only go if they get free corporate tickets. This is because a whole day through in Edinburgh including tickets for the game can come to about £150-£200. So young supporters with a bit of fire in their belly can't afford to go.
    Please tell me that the SRU will be selling tickets on the day if the stadium is not full!

  • Comment number 64.

    The team has been announced GL1. I suspect there may be more tickets sold over the next couple of days now.

    I can't wait, the changes are what was needed to restore the faith.

    Looks like a good team to me. In spite of not being a Park's fan, I'll be happy if he comes off the bench in the last 10 mins to slot the winning drop goal or to keep us more than a score ahead.

  • Comment number 65.

    #63. No they won't be selling tickets on the day.

  • Comment number 66.

    Follow the link and just imagine if this was the atmosphere in Murrayfield on Saturday.

    I think the rugby public sneer and look down their noses at the footballing section of our country but we could definitely take a leaf out of their books when talking about passion.

    I'm sure the Irish would love it too. Good clean fun!

  • Comment number 67.

    team looks good aswell!

  • Comment number 68.

    De Luca can consider himself lucky to be in the team-only down to lack of cover in midfield.

  • Comment number 69.

    Is Grove fit? did he not play well at 13? His club form is good as far as I am aware.
    Can we trust De Luca to retain possession when tackled against the Irish (or anyone), and will he tackle with the lines the Irish run?

    Apart from that and the injuries reasonably happy.

    I'll be there singing until those next to me tell me to stop that out of tune rubbish (happens to me a lot).

  • Comment number 70.

    Agree with #68 re de Luca but not much choice given injury list. Team is probably as good as it could be although I have preference for Danielli rather than Walker, who is not a natural rugby player in terms of handling and awareness.
    Re the dirge that is Flower of Scotland - is it not time we celebrated the massive contribution Scots have made to the world in many fields with an upbeat tune that highlights what we aspire to rather than the dirge which celebrates a rare victory against England nearly 700 years ago

  • Comment number 71.

    What about Ben Cairn as well I've heard he has been playing well for the A team?

  • Comment number 72.

    #66 Do you really think that the clowns in charge at the Kremlin are going to allow community singing at half time?

    #71 Ben Cairns is getting some much needed practice in for Edinburgh tomorrow night - live on S4C if you're interested.

  • Comment number 73.


    What do you think of how Ben Cairns or Grove is playing?
    Would you put either of them in ahead of De Luca?

  • Comment number 74.

    John my boy - the teams are up:


    15 Chris Paterson (Edinburgh)
    14 Nikki Walker (Ospreys)
    13 Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)
    12 Sean Lamont (Scarlets)
    11 Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors)
    10 Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors)
    9 Mike Blair (Edinburgh)
    1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh)
    2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh)
    3 Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors)
    4 Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
    5 Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors) CAPTAIN
    6 Kelly Brown (Saracens)
    8 Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)
    7 John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors)

    16 Scott Lawson (Gloucester)
    17 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh)
    18 Nathan Hines (Leinster)
    19 Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)
    20 Rory Lawson (Gloucester)
    21 Dan Parks (Cardiff Blues)
    22 Simon Danielli (Ulster)


    15 - Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster)
    14 - Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
    13 - Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
    12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
    11 - Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster)
    10 - Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
    9 - Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
    1 - Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
    2 - Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
    3 - Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
    4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
    5 - Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
    6 - Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
    7 - David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)
    8 - Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)

    16 - Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht)
    17 - Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
    18 - Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster)
    19 - Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
    20 - Peter Stringer (Shannon/Munster)
    21 - Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
    22 - Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)

    Well done to your boy for regaining fitness - let's hope he has a stormer.

  • Comment number 75.

    Apart from De Luca and Walker I predicted the team. Walker has played well for Ospreys and I can live with him being involved. I still have my reservations about De Luca and don't rate him. I truely hope he proves me wrong and has a great game and makes me eat my words. Having nearly guessed the team I feel I qualify for the job of assistant coach. My first idea as a. coach is to say entry to Murrayfield is free, upon entry everyone gets a free cup of tea and a turkish delight. Followed by a half time full of Pic and Mix. Take note SRU! On a serious note- Good luck Scotland, lets get our first win!

  • Comment number 76.

    Now we've had a change at 10 I can cancel my Sunday afternoon fishing trip and watch Scotland instead. Hooray!

    It's a shame Laidlaw and perhaps even Cuthbert didn't get a place on the bench.

    Has Lamont ever played at 12 before? What do we think AR's strategy is with the 12 and 13 chemistry? I'm a bit baffled by that one.

    Is AR putting a lot of responsibility on Lamont's shoulders because he's bang on form and a strong voice in the team? Perhaps along the lines of you're big, hard and confident so try this then? I've been concerned about de Luca in the past two games. Is he seen as the more complete footballer to be the foil to Lamont's turbo-charged battering ram?

    Glad to see the Killer Bs back together. That's a step in the right direction. Brown has been a good solid performer and I think all three of them will help to get the best out of one another.

  • Comment number 77.

    I maybe wrong but I think Lamont has been playing at 12 for his club and very well at that. Would rather have had Grove outside him maybe even Cairns

  • Comment number 78.

    I would like to have seen Grove. Maybe AR has a plan, there must be a reason why he has stuck with De Luca. Fingers crossed its a good plan!

  • Comment number 79.

    Happy with team apart for one position!!!! O’Driscoll gets the ball and scores a try, again and again and again. I wonder which player will be posted missing every time!!!! Answers on a post card.. What's wrong with Grove, Cairns???? 100 times better players

    Back on to my favourite horse.... Scotland needs 4 pro teams; we don't have the strength in depth to cover for tournaments like the 6 nations or the world cup!!!!! The second/third/fourth string players aren't getting enough game time....

    SRU stop looking at the debt as a millstone, invest and you will reap the rewards. A good pro team, bigger support, large crowds, leads to more and more money equals less and less debt.

    Glasgow/Edinburgh full of seasoned pros winning tournaments

    Pro team 3/Pro team 4 half the team with seasoned pros near the end of their careers and the other half young talented players.

    Which 4 pro teams give you 88 possible players to pick from currently 44. This isn’t rocket science….

  • Comment number 80.

    #77. If so , sorry, my mistake. I thought he'd been playing at 13.

    Yeah, he got the man of the match award for the Scarlets last week which can only be a good thing about his current form.

  • Comment number 81.


    I'm thick I know but are you say Grove, Cairns are 100 times better or worse than De Luce?

  • Comment number 82.


  • Comment number 83.

    Robinson may have come up with a stroke of genius playing Lamont at 12, as watching the Irish games this 6 Nations I have certainly seen Gordon Darcy missing or falling off a few tackles, so if Lamont can get beyond that gain line we certainly have the back row now to take advantage of that and if that can generate quick ball then we are in with a chance of winning this game.

  • Comment number 84.

    I agree. D'Arcy is a quality player, but he hasn't been playing well recently.

  • Comment number 85.

    De Luca last year against ireland played well, and we won over there, Dont think anyone will be having a field day against him.

    He has struggled this season playing outside Dan Parks, and I think most people would. Lets see how he gets on this weekend as the decision making man says he is good enough and better than all the options given on here, and the SRU value his opinion over ours.

  • Comment number 86.

    Johnny This is a good side however they have to have time to Gel we cant expect this team with the changes, some which have been forced to be world beaters overnight !! I hope that we just see a team that are full of running and have quick ball taken from depth to allow us to break the gainline and give Max Evans and Lamont the opportunity to run in space as they are usually taking flat ball and are marked out of the game. It is great to see the three Bs back and i feel they will make a difference. Please lets hope that we cut out the errors and the Fans have something to actually cheers about they deserve more they have waited long enough. Not sure about dropper De luca but i am willing to give him a chance in this new set up. This could be the platform for us to launch the New look Scotland before the World cup we cant afford to leave it to late Win or lose. We also have some good players injured to come in and strenghten this side. C'mon Scotland !!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    This will be the first Scotland game since learning I'm expecting my first son aka future Scotland captain! I think I'll record it for him!

    I'm full of optimism as usual rightly or wrongly. I was hopeful to get a look at Cuthbert in Scotland colours but I'm not too dissapointed with any of this team. Paterson will take the pressure of goal-kicking from Ruaridh Jackson and let him just play. I quite like Lamont at 12, but i'd quite like a top form Lamont at 11,12,13 and 14. Cuthbert should have at least made it onto the bench, Danielli can only play on the wing and we're already playing a wing in the centre.

    As far as the questions about Cairns or Grove being 100 times better than De Luca, I agree. Cairns especially, he must be the most under-rated player in Scottish rugby.

    I'm so happy to see Johnnie Beattie back, he is a player I love to watch. I've seen that try vs Ireland last year a million times. John, I know you've got a successful football playing daughter, currently at Arsenal I believe, but any more boys out there, we could do with another Johnnie!

    Theres so many people doubting Scottish rugby after a bad display and a couple of losses, but i'm 100% behind this team, win or lose.

    C'mon Scotland!

  • Comment number 88.

    I too will be there supporting Scotland till the end no matter what. My 10 year old son will be there not damaged be recent 6 nation years that I have dragged him too.

    And I do hope De Luca proves me wrong. When he first came on the scene I used to sing his praises and I'll be glad if gets me singing again.

    John did your son ever play up in Ellon with West? When you used to make the dreaded long distance trudge up the road. I remember you Standing on the touchline and explaining to my son "that man" is a great example of what he could achieve if he keeps at it.

    C'mon Scotland!!!

  • Comment number 89.

    I didn't have a good feeling about the France and Wales games but i have a good feeling about this Sunday for Scotland! I think the changes that have been made are positive ones and am really happy to see Paterson back after not really getting a chance to celebrate his 100th cap against Wales last year! I know we were all annoyed about the Wales gamethis year, especially me after a 7 hour trip to watch it at Murrayfield but you have to take the rough with the smooth with Scotland. I for one am VERY excited about game, have a good feeling and will be cheering loudly for the boys! Lets start again lads......GO ON SCOTLAND!!!!!

  • Comment number 90.

    Seeing as how nobody has posted yet today!
    I'm fairly happy with the team for saturday, although I'm disappointed that Ansbro is injured, as I would have liked to see how Lamont and he worked at centre.
    I'm going on Sunday, so here's hoping it's a cracker, C'mon the boys!!!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Disaster - I have mislaid my tickets for Sunday in the aftermath of a recent house move and the SRU won't re-issue replacements, citing it is not their policy to do so. However, they are perfectly willing to SELL me two new tickets to make up for the ones that have gone AWOL.

    I was fizzing at the parsimonious response from Murrayfield earlier today. Does the SRU seriously expect it's long-suffering and loyal fans to shell out twice, given the lamentable state of affairs we've seen on the pitch recently? Does it not say something that they are even in a position to offer to sell me two new tickets this close to the game?? They should be paying me to attend!!

    I would hate to not go to Murrayfield in future - it's one of the very best things about living in Edinburgh and there is nothing like being part of the crowd when things go well or when a game is close and well fought, even if Scotland doesn't ultimately win. But, given the SRU's attitude over this honest mistake, at a time when prices are sky high and we're getting very little in return apart from a lot of happy Welshmen, I think I may have spent my last afternoon at Murrayfield.

  • Comment number 92.

    I agree with Fatwing80 (and others). Looks like AR has gone for a solid attacking line up. Looking forward to the match, especially the Killer Bs being back together. If they can protect Nos 9 & 10 and give options for Lamont to run on to then we should be in for an exciting ride.
    Disappointed that Ansbro won't be playing but he is the future of Scottish centres I hope and if we can get Ansbro and Sean Lamont working together well then I can only see good things ahead. Okay, some may say I'm looking at this through heather tinted glasses but isn't that what supporting Scotland is all about, being optimistic?
    I just hope that Mossy's packed his kicking boots for all those tries we're going to score.

  • Comment number 93.

    Ansbro should be back for the England game so we'll see how Lamont and Ansbro play together then.

  • Comment number 94.

    Dear John,

  • Comment number 95.

    Dear John,

    I quite agree with the correspondent who referred to your dynamism, a quality which seems to be lacking in most of our current players. The explosive effort required to facilitate it depends on strength-training, an area in which we seem to lag behind the French and English.
    As regards ball-retention, two basics often seem to be neglected: (1) the receiver spreading his palms in the direction of the passer (2) carrying the ball in two hands. The latter not only helps ball-retention in the tackle but makes the direction of any pass by the ball-carrier less predictable to the opposition. In fact these basics also relate to strength and dynamism, as a ball-carrier or receiver with these qualities is less concerned with any incoming tackle and can concentrate better on ball-retention.
    Lack of self-belief is often portrayed as a national characteristic but in rugby terms could be ameliorated by sufficient strength-training to be able to out-muscle our opponents, or at least match their muscularity. Unfortunately their does seem to be an innate abhorrence of strength-training in Scottish society.

  • Comment number 96.

    Sorry, should have checked my #95 -- final sentence should have read: "there does seem to be......."!

  • Comment number 97.

    Do you have any more thoughts in particular about how the game might go, John?

    Who was the best Irish forward and the best Irish back you ever played against?

  • Comment number 98.

    RE: #91 - Full credit to the SRU where it's due. Thanks to an outbreak of common sense and customer service at Murrayfield, my lost tickets will be reissued, albeit on payment of an 'administration fee' of £5 each. I am profoundly grateful.

    Now, can concentrate on the proper pre-match build up...

  • Comment number 99.

    I am excited about the game on Sunday.

    I think it will be a tight game. We need to tame/limite the impact of the Irish back row. Glad to see killer B's in action along with Sean Lamont and Chris Paterson. Hopefully Jackson won't get himself sinbinned.

    Was at the Glasgow game last night as was Gregor Townsend. A young team which is improving and needs encouragement. Horne had a good game after a shocker earlier in the season. I had to move seats as I was fed up with the moaning of some fellow supporters. It highlighted that we don't do better with criticism but do better with praise!

    So come on Scotland, fight back...

    4 years ago I went to the Scotland V Ireland game at Murrayfield and thought it would be a whitewash, hoping it wouldn't be as it was my wedding day (married am, rugby pm and meal in eve!) but we came within 1 point of them!

  • Comment number 100.

    "Here's Tommy!!!"

    Guess who's back back back, back again again again.

    Hi John, have you missed me?
    Just a wee message to say no hard feelings about last year.
    Looking forward to the atmosphere tomorrow...specially the booing. ;)

    Just wanted to reference this blog from last year...what do you think of developments?

    Here's hoping i don't have to eat humble pie tomorrow but i feel if Ireland cut out their silly errors you could be on for a hiding.

    Love and respect as always



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