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The retreat from France - the airport blog

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John Beattie | 17:48 UK time, Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ah well, so the French have the "Gaul" to overcharge, and it's not with an Asterix but comes with an exclamation mark - the price of one beer, so I am told, was 16 euros in a pub some chums frequented.

So I write this at the airport after the traditional fruitless but fun-filled fan attempt at getting home from Paris.

Austin Healey was trying to get the late train from Gare du Nord on Saturday evening and how on earth he got there I don't know as, it seems to me anyway, there isn't a single rugby ground in the world that treats its fans leaving the stadium as a worthwhile exercise in pain reduction.

Scotland's Richie Gray attracts the attention of the French players as he tries to make headway in the defeat in Paris. Photo: Getty

Scotland's Richie Gray attracts the attention of the French players as he tries to make headway in the defeat in Paris. Photo: Getty

So here's today's question: what were the games like for you, and how the heck did you get home after them? There is a prize for the longest story.

But enough of the complaining. I bumped into Gavin Hastings on the Champs Elysee - his missus is a delight, and the game was superb - with the French, it has to be said, showing the Scots the way home.

My thought at the end of the game is that Richie Gray, who was described by Jeremy Guscott as slow a week ago, can now name his price should he wish to move to France as the big blond was the best player heavyweight on the pitch.

There are lots of obvious things to say about the game. Scotland started off like startled rabbits, Jo Ansbro was outstanding, Sean Lamont looked like he wanted to be on from the start when he came on, Kelly Brown was everywhere, Al Kellock played a captain's role, and the French can finish.

They had to win after their November series; the Scots merely wanted a win.

For me, the big difference seemed to be in the scrums. The French like scrummaging and have a 300,000 euro contraption that can mimic the players that are about to confront the French pack.

I don't think Scotland's budget stretches to that for a pro team.

The problem for Scotland is that I am not sure we can be much better than this, as it was a valiant display.

Perhaps there could be more go forward, but the ball was sprayed around.

I'll write more when I come home but, for the record, I've taken the Metro from Oberkampf to Gare du Nord, then train to Charles de Gaulle airport and then a shuttle train to the correct terminal and endured a long, long, long security check.

Next time it might be the train with Austin.

Anyway, can you beat 16 euros for a beer? And how did you get home? Right, they are calling our flight - it's via Cardiff and by propeller.

Magic, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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

And you can follow John on Twitter.


  • Comment number 1.

    16 Euros for a beer John-sounds like a carry-out is called for!
    The game:
    France had control of the scrum, kicked from hand exceptionally well and had runners supporting just at the shoulder of the ball carrier. Yes we scored 3 tries, but Robinson said it all when he said "We're here to win".
    I thought Parks and DeLuca were at best below average, and we were not savvy enough at keeping the ball, which led to the 3 French open tries.
    I forecast 3rd in the Championship for Scotland a week ago and I still think that's the best we can hope for.
    Usual plus points-"Plucky,hard-working" etc etc., but NO POINTS!!!!!
    Same ol' same ol'.

  • Comment number 2.

    I sort of have mixed opinions about the outcome of the game. We lost, but unlike the NZ game, we lost in style. We managed to score three tries. Three! This comes from a team who are regularly criticised for not scoring tries. To score three against a very good French side is a very good sign in my books.

    Most of the time, we looked rather good. Our attacks were pretty solid, but could have been considerably improved by backing up players who manage to break through. This is extremely noticable when France do exactly what we should be doing; fast rugby and backing up players pass after pass so that the defence doesn't have time to organise. On the three occasions we scored tries that's what we did! Now we just need to learn to do it all the time.

    As for the scrum, i'm not too worried. France had obviously put some good training into it, and we started to improve later on the game. Still think penalty try decisions for scrums are absolutely ridicolous. We seem to be the only country penalised like this.

    Signs are looking very positive to me. France were excellent, but you know what? We weren't half bad either. It was obvious at the end of the match that France were impressed.

    Onward to next week.

  • Comment number 3.

    I watched all three games from the confort of my living room. Certainly France V Scotland was the best to watch. Both teams impressed. France are certainly fast, powerful and disciplined. Scotland scored 3 tries! Gray and Ansbro were impressive. However Scotland were then own worst enemy at at times - losing the lineout and the France eventually scoring as a result; kicking the ball away or trying to keep the ball in play and aimlessly passing. England are beginnig to come together looking like they used to with lots of brute force up front. Ireland and Wales were disappointing. Was willing Italy to win - they came so close.

    Downside as ever is the scrums and the timing - how much longer do we have to wait before its sorted?

    Looking forward to Scotland v Wales. Lets do the basics well, keep our discipline and play with passion.

    At least getting to and from the ground is easy if you don't mind a bit of walking!

  • Comment number 4.

    Scotland are a vast improvement as compared to a couple of years ago but we are our own worse enemies. It was said several times on the commentry that we were just not patient enough. Three of France's tries were from Scots losing the ball in positions where we may have been better going to ground and recycling.
    I don't know why we continue to select De Luca, he does not appear to have the necessary class required for international rugby. His losing the ball in an attacking position lead to the first French try. Max Evans was also guilty of throwing the ball away when he could have gone into touch with the result being a French lineout on the half way line. Against Wales I would definitely consider playing Sean Lamont at inside centre as he has the size and pace.

    The front row need to seriously up their game not just in the scrum but also at the line out. Three times we threw possession to the French. All three starters are experienced internationals but over recent games I feel they have been a bit complacent.

    We have the quality to beat the Welsh, the Italians and the Old Folks Home that is Ireland and I believe we can be competitive against England but we need to cut out the silly mistakes.

  • Comment number 5.

    Right, back in the Beeb this morning - thought the game was played in great spirit with no foul play and a point in the game where Chabal picked a Scot up to help him on his way.

    But a great improvement, and the three tries were great


  • Comment number 6.

    It was a great game to watch and frustrating that we appeared to gift 3 tries to the French.

    Only one downer and that was the referee. During the incident when he finally awarded a penalty try he failed to notice the binding of the French loosehead prop on Euan Murray, designed as it was to bring the scrum down. Euan's binding was up and he was giving his opposite number a really hard time. That is why the scrum did not move and eventually collapsed. The French loosehead brought it down each time. When are referees at that level going to be trained in the art of scrummaging?

    Scotland were, as usual, too naive to win the game and were bullied off the ball on many occasions. As Andy Robinson said before, probably during, and again afterwards, Scotland need to be more ruthless.

    It may have been a big improvement but we need to score tries and win games. This time round it is not just for a respectable finish to the 6 nations but it could be the very survival of professional rugby union in Scotland.

  • Comment number 7.

    Much, much better.

    Three tries away from home against the French and some stand out displays - Ansbro, Gray, Brown, Evans. Not so good - Parks, De Luca, Southwell.

    Game was by far the best in the weekend. The guys need to be aware of not forcing something when it's not on. If a move has died naturally...a la Evans on touchline. Think much room for improvement from forwards - scrum needs to be tighter, lineout throw better, we need at least parity up front.

    Can't wait for Wales. Tighten everything up a notch, no turnovers and three more tries would do it.

    ...and it's snowing up here in Aberdeen!!!

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm an envious Englishman. I enjoyed the Scotland France game more than any of the others played over the weekend and I wish England could find strong players with potential like Joe Ansbro and Richie Gray(particularly as Hape still doesn't appear to know what he's doing).

    I was willing scotland on and honestly thought an upset might be on the cards when momentum shifted for Scotland's third try. OK, the result wasn't a win but most improved side of the tournament has to go to Scotland thus far.

    Thanks for giving us the game of the weekend and good luck next week against Wales.

  • Comment number 9.

    I Think the trend of throwing the miss pass along with the Scottish backs crabbing was making life a bit easier for the French defence.
    The combination of the two meant that the French weren’t forced to commit to a man and were able to drift and cover. which could be why they were able to miss so many tackles and not be punished too severely.
    As Jonathan Davies pointed out several times the runners needed to straighten up and force the French players to make the tackle.

    On the plus side Richie Gray was outstanding! There were very few occasions where him carrying the ball didn’t result in making some ground.

  • Comment number 10.

    We me Austin at Gare du Nord, post match, like us he made the train no problem. He thought Scotland played well and that Ritchie Gray was immense. I do not agree about the reason for the poor display in the scrum being all down to Ewan Murray. Look at the TV pictures and the height our locks were at pre hit.(its been the same issue at glasgow this season). They could not hold the hit, not the front row .That’s where it was going wrong. The French locks are the key ,less tall and can crouch lower ,as well as a super front row of course!Our scrum was good in Autumn with at least one Hines type in at lock.

  • Comment number 11.

    One of the realting to the long passes was summed up by my wife (who I'm delighted to say regards going to Murrayfield next weekend as a great Valentines weekend treat). She asked why the French backs always seemed to run onto the ball, whereas the Scots backs were more often standing still when they caught a pass. The long pass causes this as it would be forward if thrown far enough in front for the third player in the line to run onto. (It also risks the interception - an old disease we cannot return to). Jonathan Davies (who seemed to be very supportive of Scotland in commentary - will that last into next weekend?) was advocating shorter passes, straighter running and better angles - as shown by the last try. I think he's right, particularly as we seem to have some midfield guile and pace available.

  • Comment number 12.

    Maybe I misssed something, but OK if it was a penalty try it was a penalty try - no point in arguing about the decision.
    I got incredibly frustrated though after this was awarded and we then had another set of scrums that took place near the halfway line. Consistently collapsing at the same place in the scrum as when the penalty try was given. And was awarded to Scotland, again and again.
    My view is did the ref actually see something that clearly came from Scotland collapsing it - or was he just assuming that as it was on our 5 metre line and that Scotland were under pressure not to concede, it must have been Scotland collapsing it deliberately.
    Didn't feel like a consistent approach, and kept thinking that we could be only three points behind the French throughout the whole game. And also felt Euan Murray was pretty hard done by, in what was a pretty good approach by the team to a difficult game.

  • Comment number 13.

    The tightest and best contested round of results across the board since god knows when?! Main plaudits go to Italy for that, though!
    Richie Gray was outstanding, and not just because of his golden hair!
    At times Scotland played as good rugby as I have seen them play. (Granted I'm only 25 and English)
    Italy were desperately unlucky - my word what a result that would have been. Suddenly they have something more than Parise et al. As soon as McLean put down in the corner, I couldn't see Bergamasco converting and knew the Irish would stick one over from O'Gara's 'pocket'. That is the game we love.
    Wales reminded me of England of the last few years. They didn't run straight and couldn't turn possession into chances. If they did, they would be a dangerous prospect. England aren't ‘England’ any more in the sense that they didn't frustrate me (well...mostly). I used to play cricket with Toby Flood, nice to see the lad doing well! I had no idea he was destined to play rugby at a high level (I knew he played for my hometown Morpeth) until his Newcastle debut, where I was in the stands squinting down saying to my Dad…’is that? No…is that? that Toby Flood?’
    The signs are promising for Scotland. France are always strong, regardless of how they faired in the Autumn and I think those north of the border can realistically win their remaining matches. Although (and I'm not saying this because I'm English) I think the Calcutta cup may be their most difficult test of the games left.
    Jo Ansbro is a truly promising talent (although for some reason I referred to him all weekend as Charlie there a person called Charlie Ansbro or is that just a brain fart on my account?)
    All in all a cracking weekend of Sport and Rugby in general, really.
    As far as travelling goes, going down to Twickenham for the Powergen cup final in 2001 with a coach that left Kingston park at about half 5 in the morning and returned at about 2 am was the most arduous. I was only fifteen and one two many cans were distributed by very careless parents! Worth it for the last gasp win!
    Here's looking forward to the rest of the Six Nations!

  • Comment number 14.

    The French desrved to win but I was impressed by the Scots. Richie Gray is a bit raw but looks like a good prospect for them. They Scots were really's just that France are more comfortable on the ball, and took all the chances they created. An enjoyable game...

  • Comment number 15.

    I am not sure why Hape is being picked....he looks like a fish out of water ...

  • Comment number 16.

    Euan Murray was getting criticised by the BBC commentators for the "pasting" he was taking in the scrum...and the ref pinged him a few times...probably why he was subbed out to prevent a possible yellow.

    However, scrummaging is an 8 man event. It is unfair to focus 100% on Euan Murray as the cause.

    Euan Murray is renowned as a very good scrummager. Did he suddenly become a bad scrummager over night? Doubtful!

    Remember this is the guy who did a demolition job on Matarawia (sp?) of SA in the 2008 autumn internationals, and who Victor Matfield of SA said they were glad was not picked in the test team for the First Test for the Lions v. SA because of his scrummaging power. The Lions opted for

    Obviously Scotland were losing the hit and were outscrummaged as an 8....

  • Comment number 17.

    Well played Scotland and Andy Robinson is one hell of a good for the French,they looked awesome going forward.
    Being Irish,i was just about satisfied that we were at least clinical in the last two minutes via O'Gara's drop winning goal!
    Here's to the rest of the Six Nations and good luck to all of the teams.

  • Comment number 18.

    16 Euros for a beer though! SIxteen Euros!

    Will come back to these in a minute


  • Comment number 19.

    Well John I can beat that...
    Le France in St Germain de Pres charged us 17.70 euro's for 50cl of what can only be compared to an £8.99 tub of homebrew that was left to ferment 6 months more than it shouldhave been.
    Needless to say we left and went to our usual haunt in St Sulpice where a four pint jug will cost just 20 euro's (plus the odd vodka shot chucked in for free).
    With regards to the game, yet again Scotland made it easy for the French. They knew we would panic into making a mistake and just waited to capitalise on it. And the mistake is so so simple - not dropping the ball or not kicking it it aimlessly to a Frenchman when we are in control on the halfway line.
    We desperately need a couple of backs who can read the game or make decisions to our own advantage. Hopefully this will come from experience because make no mistake, this team is vastly improved compared to last year.
    I'd also like to mention Kelly Brown who is somewhat being overshadowed by Ansboro and Gray. KB was absolutely brilliant - I would like to call him the Richard Hill of Scotland. He really was fantastic on Saturday.
    I also met Graeme Morrison at CDG. Nice (big) guy who stated the rehab on his knee was going well but it was touch and go whether he'd play any part in this year's 6N. I always thought he was a bit of a donkey but to be fair, he took the time to chat and pose for a photo.
    So roll on Wales on Saturday - very confident of a win there and it would be brilliant to silence them. They seem to have become the new England in their arrogance.
    I mean Fiji??????
    Get a grip!
    Good luck Scotland!

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi John, nice blog once again, 16 euros? Also my missue did pay that for a hot chocolate this New Year. Two things: maybe the BEEB could get you on the box for the Scots games once in a while? Also trying to have a look at possible combos on the squad selector? Dod they ever update the Scottish version?

  • Comment number 21.

    I had the joy of watching the match from A&E, I was waiting to have my collarbone xray'd after playing rugby! At times France were sublime, upfront they provided a scrummaging master-class. Scotland have a potential rugby superstar in Richie Gray, his ball carrying & tackling were top class. Back five were mobile & made some good ground. Joe Ansbro had a great game, our best back by a long way, hopefully he'll be joined by Sean Lamont from this start this coming weekend. We need to cut down our errors, don't force it (making ground & taking the tackle is good rugby!)

    Looking forward to coming up to Edinburgh for this weekend's match, I sense my son & I are likely to be the only Scots on the flight from Bristol, sensing there'll be a sizeable Welsh contingent...lots of banter!

    Fewer errors & I'm sure we'll claim our first 6 Nations win of 2011 against Wales. One thing is certain it won't cost me 16 Euros for a pint :)

  • Comment number 22.

    Sorry to be squashing, but France went easy on the Scots. Scotland played pretty well, but the result was never in doubt, France didn't need to get out of 2nd gear. Perhaps that explains the woeful defending that gave Scotland their tries. I'd be interested to see the French defence under real pressure, this game wasn't a test for them, they appeared to take it a bit too easy.

  • Comment number 23.

    allseeingtruthspeaker - Oh, that's a bit harsh, so the French weren't trying against Scotland?

    richardtsblyth - Ouch, ouch, ouch...your flight should be fun, and was the collar bone ok?

    Nickyj - I am far too old now, and I refuse to dye my hair, I do the commentaries on Scotland only games, and man oh man we have fun on the radio :-) Happy where I am.

    Tattie Scones - someone has put on my facebook page (John Ross Beattie, all friends welcome) that they paid £35 for a few drinks.

    Barneyshamrock, come on Ireland...

    xpat 73, I coached Richie Gray two years ago (minimally) and the lad is a hard working son of a gun, and Euan Murray kept being told to chase his feet when they went from under him.

    Right, off to check twitter @johnrossbeattie and facebook


  • Comment number 24.

    Sorry John, it was a bit harsh! France certainly did try, what I meant to say is that the gap between the 2 sides is greater than the scoreline. Scotland battled bravely and have lots of things to be excited about. But their tries were poorly defended, and maybe that had something to do with the French thinking the win was inevitable. As well as all the changes they made.

    The score could have been bigger but for a few brilliant tackles from Scotland and a bit of luck. Then the media reaction would have been completely different. Even so, there's no shame in losing to the grand slam champions. For me, France are a distance ahead of all the other NH sides. Funny the pundits seemed to forget that in the build up.

  • Comment number 25.

    There were some fantastic positives for Scotland.allseeingtruthspeaker makes some valid points, but his analysis is much too simplistic.
    I endorse everyone's views on Ritchie Gray who was phenomenal and a great find for the future. His early run in the second half looked spectacular, but was lateral and naive - a waste of energy - but he showed raw class and will become more savvy with experience. His energy for 80 mins with all the defending he did was breathtaking - oh please God - if you are a Scotsman - do not let his career be curtailed by injury. For all Nathan Hines' commendable back row performance, he is a 2nd row forward and to have three locks of the calibre of him, Ritchie and Al Kellock to select from - what a wonderful headache for Andy Robinson!!
    BTW - AR must be tagged by a some vigilante philanthropic wealthy Scottish rugby supporters and told there is a hitman hired to assassinate him if he thinks of leaving his post in the next 5 years!! He has done an absolutely fantastic job for Scottish rugby and all credit and thanks to him for that.

    Nick de Luca is a player that has never convinced me at this level, but the Scottish backs showed some cutting edge and penetration long before the game was over as a live contest which is really encouraging considering this has been their biggest weakness in recent years.

    It is also reaaly encouraging that in spite of France having one of their truly mercurial days, and the Scots being blown away in the tight, they were still in the match until late on.

    Yes, one must be concerned about the beasting we took at scrumtime (esp as our pack was so much heavier) and Ross was uncharacteristically wayward with his throwing at times, but let's hope they can iron that out on the training ground. If they can I think they have the beating of Wales, Ireland and Italy and if they reeally believe in themselves can give England a serious run for their money at Twickenham and just maybe even beat 'em!
    As France usually have an off day somewhere - even winning the Championship isn't yet out of the question - and we still have your talismanic son to return yet - TAKE HEART JOHN!!

    All credit to both sides for providing us with a truly thrilling and memorable 6N encounter. Can't wait for next week - BRING IT ON!!
    (Though I weep at what's happened to the scrum in international rugby and pray it is a problem that can be sorted - and oh please PLEASE bring back proper old fashioned rucking!!)

  • Comment number 26.

    "Austin Healey was trying to get the late train from Gare du Nord on Saturday evening and how on earth he got there I don't know as, it seems to me anyway, there isn't a single rugby ground in the world that treats its fans leaving the stadium as a worthwhile exercise in pain reduction."

    Editor please.

  • Comment number 27.

    Stumbled into the George Cinq on the Friday, what about 14 euros for a 330ml Bottle of Heineken!! Reckon that equals 24 Euros a Pint!

  • Comment number 28.

    it's time to call a halt to the dead and clammy hand of dan parks on scottish rugby. his complete inability to provide courageous leadership to our backs has been endured for too long. we're four years on from our mediocre performance in the last world cup and his lack of speed, flair and physical and mental courage to carry the ball to the opposition, to make ground and keep the opposition back row honest, means we will never realise the potential of what is the core of an excellent scottish team. just compare his limited options of kicking or shovelling the ball out sideways, like a hot potato, to the attacking and varied skills of flood, trin dhuc, sexton, jones and even ogara, all of whom are unfraid of physical contact and are looking for a line break opportunity as an instinctive part of their game. i'd like to know the number of times in his entire scottish career that he has chosen to run at the opposing defence ball in hand. his decision making is limited and woeful and his impersonation of a frightened rabbit whenevr the ball comes to him with the chance of him being tackled has become laughable. our back row supply of good ball has allowed him to play armchair rugby but as soon as the pressure is on, as it was last saturday, he simply lacks the ability to influence the shape of a game and never will, when the going gets tough. he remains the pin up boy with certain members of the media who are content to tolerate mediocrity although there are exceptions like iain morrison who bluntly tells it as it is, that although parks has kicked penalties well, he also is the central problem with the scottish side. jim telfer supports this assessment as does stephen jones in criticizing parks for a complete lack of conviction in attack. we will never move to the next level as long as he occupies the no 10 jersey, continually shuffling sideways, taking no personal responsibility for straightening or leading a fast line. it may have been sheer luck that the first try from a scottish back from a line break, in over two seasons, came when he had been substituted but now is the time to blood jackson blair or weir and put an end to this suffocating era at stand off. even shakespeare may have got it right when saying something like, " will no one rid me of this troublesome stand off... ? " I have the highest regard for andy robinson and his leadership qualities. he stated early on at the time of dropping parks from the squad that he wants physical and mental resilience in his players. circumstances have meant he has had to tolerate parks who in fairness did kick penalties which raised hopes last season, even though we scored less tries than any other country including italy and narrowly avoided the wooden spoon. the time has come, however, to move on, to blood new inexperienced talent and open the doors to raising our performance and achievement levels. what's more this will enable dan parks to achieve his deepest hopes of having the record for the lowest number of tackles made or taken in contact with ball in hand, by any modern stand off and the cleanest shorts in any game in which he plays. p.s. we have the nucleus of a first rate team so hope still springs eternal in the scottish breast.

  • Comment number 29.

    With the wisdom only hindsight provides, perhaps the selection of Hines on the flank was a mistake. The extra bulk at the scrum didn't help and his lack of mobility, compared to Vernon, was a handicap. I'm still not 100% convinced by Evans either. He's quick off the mark, but he seems too prone to leaking the ball after making a break. I still believe we were a bit unfortunate to be punished so severely by the French on turnovers, especially when Evans' pass was heading for Blair were it not for Medard's head. Trinh-Duc's through the legs pass could not have worked better, but must be considered fortunate.

    I'm still in two minds about Parks as an attacking player, as he's not as accident prone as he used to be, when he posed more of a threat to his own team than the opposition. I think we need to gradually introduce Jackson a little bit earlier, depending upon the match conditions, to determine our real options ahead of the World Cup.

    Wales were unimpressive in defence again and their pack shouldn't pose the same challenge as France, so we should be optimistic for our prospects on Saturday. Let's hope the team keep the crowd on their feet.

  • Comment number 30.

    £24 a pint compared to my first "Rugby" pint Wales game 1975, circa 11p!!!!

    Then into a jam packed Schoolboys' Enclosure with some of the Welsh guys we'd tagged onto!

    How times change!

  • Comment number 31.

    Just as an aside, We were lucky enough to be at Cardiff, we had a fantastic night, I didnt buy a round... the game was fantastic and frantic, and at the end the railway had tents to guard us from the rain whilst we waited for the train home, as ever great crack from both Wales and England supporters. What a great game we enjoy with passionate like minded fans. Long may it continue

  • Comment number 32.

    First of all, I believe there was a reason for the train problem post-match on Saturday. We were told there had been a suicide somewhere on the line. Normally there is no problem getting back from the ground.

    I'll see your 16 Euros beer and raise you an 18 Euros cheeseburger somewhere in the St Germain area on Sunday. We had a quick lunch to make up for our disappointment of not getting our day trip to Reims. That was called off when we discovered the return rail fare was c70 Euros!

    The longest trip was the return from not seeing Glasgow in Toulouse. One hour delay on our lunchtime flight from Toulouse to Gatwick. Arrive at Gatwick to discover no flights to Glasgow. Decide to fly from Luton. No cross London rail service so train to London Bridge, Northern line to Kings Cross St Pancras and train from St Pancras. Booked on the 20.55 hrs to Glasgow. Wheels up 01.45 hrs, taxi got me home c03.30 hrs. Roll on Twickers and Venice!

    I trust, John, your suitcase arrived home safely with you?

  • Comment number 33.

    Euan Murray is being maligned. If you have the chance to re-look at the overhead camera shot at the 'penalty try' scrum, notice that Euan has Gray packing down behind him but that his buttocks are too far from Ford. Gray may not be strong enough to 'lock' the front row in place. Would have switched Hines to give Euan the power and allow Gray to shine in loose if the French back row broke. Should n't be writing this as a Welshman BUT the front row union has to stay tight!

  • Comment number 34.

    Scotland, played well on Saturday apart from one man who cost us two tries and a drop goal!!!!!! couched the ball up, french try. posted missing in his position, french drop goal. posted missing again in his position, french try. No coming back from that!!!!! Headless Chicken, comes to mind.

    In Dan Park's defence he had to by-pass the so called international rugby player above to get the backs moving. Jackson isn't ready, next year or two, Weir for Glasgow looks good to, but it'll three/four years for him.

    The list of players who are not up to international rugby in this country is a long long list and needs to change.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree with alex on the list of Scottish players that are not up to international Rugby but I also think Jackson and weir will be ready sooner than you think. Jackson would have been ready sooner if he hadn't dislocated his shoulder in the first game of last season and as for weir, I think he's got even more potential than Jackson.I've seen him play one full game (or maybe half of one)for the Warriors and he was the bee's, scoring a try and kicking a shed load with the boot.
    Leaving Germany tomorrow with the wife in tow for a good old hit and miss up in auld reekie with a few old Army mates.................and a certain Rugby match too.
    Play up you Jock's !!.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with post 33 if you watch the shot he is talking about you can see what a cracking position the French pack are in. The Jocks are way too loose with the consiquence they split at the loose head the French prop doesnt have to change position or bore in as the Scots front row are splitting apart. but its easy to say from the TV As an Englishman I am slightly worried that the Scots seem to have found a belief in themselves, I would be more worried if I was Welsh!

  • Comment number 37.


    Rubbish. Parks weaknesses might be in contact situations, but Scotland knows this and makes sure to cover him. This anti-Parks mentality is getting tiring. Are you from Edinburgh by any chance? The truth is Parks is miles ahead tactically. He has shown time and again that he knows exactly when and where to play the ball.

    Who else would you suggest as a replacement? Godman is utterly useless, a complete and total rookie compared to Parks and one of the worst players I have ever seen. Jackson is still up and coming and shows promise, but needs to learn more about tactics. Blair (the other Blair) is still in training and could potentially be good. At the moment we just have to deal with Parks disadvantages and play accordingly, but to say he's the weak spot in the team is utterly ridicolous. He had one off day because he was under considerable pressure. This is hardly call for his resignation.

    Also learn to use paragraphs!

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm afraid we are going to have to suffer Mr parks for a while yet as Jackson is allowed time to develop.

    Two changes to the team:

    1. Get rid of DeLuca he is absolutely hopeless.

    2. Hines back in behind Murray with Gray at blindside.

    Don't let me down Scotland of my taff pal and his missus will never let me hear the end of it, and it will cost me money. There again I would never have taken the bet if I didn't believe we can win.

  • Comment number 39.

    Few things to comment on lol

    I am glad Scotland got 3 tries. At least it shows we know where the line is, the Lamont effort was encouraging as it showed glimpses of an ability to score with the backs. I think Sean was good in the centre, with Ansbro (a great addition!) it makes a very strong physical pairing, both with pace as well.

    I would keep Evans on the wing, OK he made some mistakes and he should have just taken the touchline instead of passing but he is quick off the mark and has good strength and is able to wriggle out of tackles.

    Parks was not at his best in the game, but as the last few posts have said there is little other option right now. I think Dan is a good player, he has a certain style that suits certain games. From choice I would prefer someone more like Stephen Jones who will run at the defence and be a little more creative, mix it up between passing, kicking or running.

    Agree with what Jiffy said in commentary, Scotland need to run onto the ball at pace. It is one of the basic basic things that is taught at mini rugby, I had it drummed into me for years! Something needs to happen there because on the odd occasion it happens, more often than not holes are punched through defence.

    The scrum..... I am not disputing the penalty try, as said by Robbo if it was the othe way round he would be screamign for it too. As said above, on the 3rd go when the scrum was solid and didn't move before collapsing, Murray and co had it sorted. Then of course the french pulled it down (as anyone would) because they knew they had the advantage. What gets me is how someone with the reputaion Euan has for his scrummaging, why people think he would be trying to muck it up on his own tryline? When these things keep happening in the scrum does the thought enter the Ref's head that MAYBE it isn't Murray's fault?

    Gray was brilliant, definitely a great addition. Fair play to Andy Nicol (who I find difficult to listen to sometimes, he seems awfully negative), he has said for a while now that Gray is really exciting.

    Ford didn't have a good game, he is normally solid and reliable but it wasn't his day on Saturday. Shouldn't be difficult to get sorted out.

    All in all I was pleased with how Scotland went out on Saturday, playing with some positivety and trying things out is so much more refreshing to watch than cagey defensivness. And we even got 3 tries out of it! Something to take note of? I think so.

    Word on the commentary, I like Jonathon Davies on the mic. He is even handed and sensible, understands the game immensly well and doesn't BS like some:

    (yes that is YOU Moore and Butler, listening to the DRIVEL that you come out with on Friday night is incredibly boring and turns the whole thing into a pantomime, we want to watch RUGBY not listen to whatever is going on in Brian Moores grey matter :-( )

    Similarly, please find someone other than Andrew Cotter to commentate on Scotland matches. The man would be better suited to trying to write sensationalist headlines for a tabloid than commentate, he really can not find anything good to say about Scotland.

    Anyway, enough ranting. Roll on the weekend and this time a convincing WIN for Scotland :-D

  • Comment number 40.

    Have to agree with comment 33. the reason Murray appeared to get mullered was because of to loose a bind in the 2nd row, lets face it at times you could see huge gaps in the Scots scrummage just as they took the hit, the french on the other hand had a solid phalanx of bodies with no gaps between players. If murray wasn't such a great scrummager he would have had even more pings against his name.

    Us old front rowers have to look after each other, cos its never our fault ...honest sir!

    Other bad points, well De Luca just isn't good enough, period. Parks has no running game so is easy to read.

    Good points, almost everyone else played well, Gray, Brown, Ansbro were all great and with lamont it looks like we have a centre partnership for the future but we will need a fly half for them to support, and I think Jackson should get the nod as it would be a big confidence boost for him and he can't be moer negative than Parks.

  • Comment number 41.

    Aaaaaargh! No John, no John, no!
    Please don't use the "Go forward" phrase-what's wrong with "attack?"
    On Ski-Sunday it's "From the get-go." Can't they say "Start?"
    All commentators now use "OFFence or DEFence" as if they are watching stupid Grid-Iron. Surely it's "Attack" or Defence."
    It's all American, useless, lazy gibberish. As it's MY BBC, I'm banning it.
    Anyway tootle-pip, and just for your use of George Bush-isms I'm pleased you got charged 16 Euros for a beer!

  • Comment number 42.

    Just seen the team - unchanged from the French game - Why?

    Hines is good but not a blindside flanker. A balanced back row would be Vernon (until JB Jnr is back!), Brown and Barclay.

    De Luca should have been dropped to let an Ansbro/Evans or Ansbro/Lamont centre partnership to develop.

    Anyway, roll on Saturday!

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree with TheBurnsChap- i thought we were hard done by in the scrums. On our line the scrum collapes and we are penalized, but on the half-way line apparently exactly the same thing happens and this time it is the French at fault. The referees really do not know how to officiate this part of the game. In addition, i think the ref was holding the pause for far too long before the hit in the scrums-these guys are under strain the whole time they are standing in the crouch position-i think this contributed to the problem with the scrum.

    I also thought the ref let the French away with murder as fars a offside was concernec in the backs.

    Criticism of the ref aside, i think we made the French look a bit better than they actually played. Yes, they capitalized extremely well on the chances they had, but they didn't have to work particularly hard to get them.

    Finally, i agree with the comment that Nick Deluca doesn't have what it takes at international level.

  • Comment number 44.

    Surprised at unchanged team - Wales different proposition to France - need a mobile back row so agree with 43 - Deluca has never delivered and failed again on Sat - going into tackle with ball in one hand is criminal and leads to turnovers
    Lamont unlucky as he showed he was really up for it and made breaks whilst Walker is just a big lump with no ball skill
    Any how the team should still beat Wales

  • Comment number 45.

    I dont remember Mermoz doing anything against De Luca so he did well in defense, also Ansbro had space and decent ball thanks to De Luca. Yes he made a couple of mistakes and was stripped in the tackle, but Andy Robinson knows better than everyone on this page which players to pick, that is why he is in the job and the team isnt picked by BBC blog!!

    Get behind your team and players and ditch this point the finger attitude, save that for Jeremy Kyle's guests!!

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree with ecossse dave on excessive pause time on the scrum build up. this ritual of, touch, pause, engage has become farcical. What now happens is that after the touch call there is an automatic few moments of pause, depending on how much of a control friek the referee is. this is then followed by the official call for pause when a pause has already been in place for seconds, then the engage call. all this contributes to a totally unnatural build up of holding back before actual engagement. can anyone explain why we ever descended into this chronically negative ritual ? this has now become a license for referees to arbitralily award free kicks or, due to the laboured delay before the eventual o.k to engage, a resultant locking together with unsteady scrummaging, leading to collapsing scrums, with penalty kicks being awarded and often unfairly.

    we now have a totally distorted importance being assigned to the scrum, along with a dreadful loss of valuable playing time. i'm all for powerful scrummagers gaining an advantage and, winning ball against the head, but this particular scrummaging disease has been allowed to insidiously suffocate the free flow of the game. better the referee spent his energy with a charter of calling every squint put in and stop the blatant cheating which seems to be unofficially endorsed. meantime, in terms of remedy, either we eliminate the pause completely or perhaps allow the front rows to touch and without pause, then engage and do so independently, followed by the second and back rows.

    i've never played at prop so better and more experienced minds than mine may have the simple solution which we are currently missing. seems to me, i remember the days of carmichael, mcglauchlin and milne exerting outstanding power, skill and technique and the number of collapsed scrums or infringements was minimal. strikes against the head and pressure on the opposition scrum, were part of the enjoyable spice of the game. there must be a lesson in there somewhere for positive change to the current shabby ritual and its inconsistent interpretation. the i.r.b. needs to step up quickly and throw out this discredited system ; and let's not move in the direction of the farcical non contested rugby league approach to scrum restarts.

    not to beat the drum again excessively but, concerning selection, it's seems like same old , same old, with parks still occupying the leadership no 10 role against wales. leadership in this role should encompass an all round game which he is incapable of providing. time must be running out for the frightened rabbit. out with the old and in with the new.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Moderator. Should I have used ' for ANY sake' instead of ****. Do you need to get a life ?

  • Comment number 49.

    Point made. Incidentally I have been a contributor to these blogs for some two years. Do you have a life ?

  • Comment number 50.

    Forget it. You have a job to do. Review my contribution.

  • Comment number 51.

    h2o makes a good point, th scrum is a farce these days. What was wrong with the old crounch, touch, engage? With good reffing any slight differences in the timing of the call will be picked up on after the first scrum, not with this stupid situation of the "pause" changing and the players pre-empting the call because of an excessive delay.
    The scrum should be one of the most exciting elements of the game, right now it is the worst bit.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ref: h2o. 100% accurate!!

  • Comment number 53.

    h2o is spot on.

    If we must have this farcical ritual at scrum time then I suggest crouch, touch, engage, pause.

  • Comment number 54.

    Team for Wales game. I hope we're not going back to the bad old days of Hadden, because I see the non-international class player has been picked again!!!!! What's Sean Lamond done wrong?!?!?!?!? 10 times better player.

  • Comment number 55.

    Maybe AR is thinking about using Sean Lamont as a tactical substitution later in the match? Maybe he has a fitness issue which would preclude him from playing a full 80 minutes so it is best to use his fitness level when everyone else is tiring? As saintjock says at 45, let's get behind the team that has been picked and support them.
    Bringing it back to topic, I actually enjoy the trip back to Glasgow after a 6N match, walk back up to Waverley and jump on a train, then watch everyone trying to cram on at Haymarket. Benefit is that I get some exercise walking the extra distance to Waverley and then get a seat for the journey back to Glasgow.
    Looking forward to Saturday.

  • Comment number 56.

    You won't be saying that after he costs Scotland the game again. Which he will!!!! Unless he suddenly becomes a good player over night, which ant going to happen.... Scotland can't carry passengers, the bus isn't big enough.

    Bee in bonnet like some above over DP.

  • Comment number 57.

    Not so much concerned about the team as the ref. Glancy again. If ever there was a case of being promoted beyond your abilities then he is it. Enough said.

    He will cost us the game.

  • Comment number 58.

    OK - not to dwell on last Saturday's game too much... couple of quick points: We were (as usual) playing catch-up rugby from the first French try, and, as usual were trying (with too much desperation) to get up the other end and score. Nothing wrong with that of course; however, as we've seen so often in the past in such circumstances, in doing so our defence gets completely out of shape, and we leave ourselves wide-open to the counter-attack - especially against the top teams (SA, NZ, FR) who then run in tries with some patience...slow-solid build up and points will follow – leave the heroics until a safe lead is established.

    Also – need to get support runners on the shoulder (particularly for the backs) – most of the French tries illustrated this nicely with great support play, we only did with the Lamont try – again, too often Scottish breakaways are solo efforts and easily turned over.

    Surely it’s last chance saloon for Deluca?... must be?

    All that said, generally happy with the positive signs as already mentioned, and feel quietly confident for Saturday’s Wales clash – however, as we all know – Scotland make the better under-dog – So Beware!

  • Comment number 59.

    Saintjock - have to disagree about de Luca. Just watched the game back to be sure and watched him in particular. 1 try gifted to the French, 2 shocking passes, 1 sprint out of defence which let the French carve us up, about 2 tackles and 2 half breaks. No passes to Ansbro. Most of the time he was jogging around or pretending to be a flanker at rucks. Seriously low contibution. In contrast Ansbro was tackling, running, supporting and generally getting stuck in.

    I will be right behind the team on Saturday too.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hopefully a win in this game will put a smile on Thom's face.

    We were humiliated at the Millenium Stadium last year and redressing the balance is a matter of national honour, plain and simple.

    Scotland need to get rid of their nasty habit of conceding a try in the first few minutes. It's getting ridiculous.

    Dunno how de Luca is still in the team, especially as Schlong looked full of menace and fight.

    The Scottish supporters need to really cheer their team on today and back our players to the hilt!

  • Comment number 61.

    Jesus Christ (am I allowed to say that on these forums? Sorry if not). It's times like these I wonder why I bother watching Scotland.

    First up, I hope Southwell never gets to play again after his performance, I hope Robinson FINALLY realises that Murray is out of it (oh look, the scrum IMPROVED without him) and I hope De Luca gets replaced.

    Oh and an apology from me to h20. You were right sir. Something is seriously wrong with Parks and we may have to start hunting for an alternative.

  • Comment number 62.

    W Main

    I couldn't have put it any better. Agree with everything you said.
    That was awful.
    I'm gutted.

  • Comment number 63.

    What a desperately disappointing Scottish performance.
    I would say throw the video tape away and forget about this one. They just were not mentally in the right place and that is what they need to address.
    That said, De Luca, Parks, Scrum half Lawson and Euan Murray should be dropped. Although Southwell was disappointing, and would not be in my first choice line-up, I would not consign him to the scrap-heap on one performance.
    Euan Murray, however, has lost it, and to see him smiling when he came off made me want to drive up to Murrayfield and punch him. Just for that, he should be dropped for the rest of the season. Whether he is not match fit, or has not been putting in the hours in the gym or whether his head is just in the wrong place, he is just not the player he was and it is time to give Murray Low a run. He would have to put in some mighty performances for his club before I ever considered picking him again, unless there is some exceptional reason for his loss of form that I am unaware of (ie. Carrying an injury, which the management are aware of.)

    Having said all that, and today was truly a depressing day for Scottish Rugby, all is not lost - an exciting good side does not suddenly become useless overnight.

  • Comment number 64.

    Was on a night out, only just watched the game and wished I hadn't!!!!

    All I have to say is..... Poor poor poor poor. And that's being polite.

    Forward amateurish, unprofessional, can’t think any more word to explain anger I am feeling.

    Dan Park - don't know what he was playing at.

    De Luca - should never see another Scotland cap.

    Southwell - over-rated and he proved me right again.

    Only players that get any pass marks are Walker, Ansbro and S. Lamont at least they tried...

    POOR POOR POOR POOR, If I was Robinson, I would be beasting them right now on training ground. Sleep doesn't happen to the poor.

    Where is ExQVPiper #55 I think point proved for me I think?

  • Comment number 65.

    I hsve eaten a rather large slice of humble pie. I was at Murrayfield and was upset (to put it politely) with the performance I witnessed.
    Scotland now have 2 weeks to get themselves sorted, I'll be back at Murrayfield then and hope to see a much improved performance.


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