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Improving Scotland must avoid Wooden Spoon

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John Beattie | 20:37 UK time, Sunday, 13 March 2011

Boy oh boy I enjoyed that game. Brilliant, superb and oh so close, but the sad thing is that it was gallant failure once more.

I write this at Heathrow airport, talking to Irish rugby legend Tony Ward, who says Scotland were unlucky.

Hand on heart, that was the best Scottish performance at Twickenham I have seen. So can Scotland beat Italy?

In fact, do we have to beat Italy to rescue a season?

I never criticise referees but the fact that Mike Tindall received the Calcutta Cup from his future mother-in-law was in part due to the referee's foibles before Andy Robinson's voodoo act which must have involved a doll, some pins in the calf and a sorry referee hobbling from the field.

I didn't understand many of the penalties given against Scotland but that's all I'll say, and to be fair to England their try came when Scotland had 15 on the pitch.

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In terms of competition, it was a massively improved performance form Scotland that had as its foundation Rhuaridh Jackson's coming of age, Geoff Cross adding impetus when he came on the pitch and a host of players, from Sean Lamont to Richie Gray, from Ross Ford (who needs to be more accurate in the lineout) to Joe Ansboro, having superb games.

Chris Paterson, too, with his cover tackle, justified his inclusion.

Scottish impetus was back, the abrasion in contact was good and it was much, much more like it.

The trouble is that England were subdued and played badly. Toby Flood was far too keen to attack wide early on and the whole side looked tired and nervous.

And it's played four and lost four for Scotland. It's an accurate record but could it have been different? Is this a really bad season? Have Scotland been unlucky? Are there signs of improvement and, if there are, does it matter given the loss? The defence was better, but we still lost.

Scotland perhaps created more in this 80 minutes than before but Italy now come to Murrayfield and Scotland have to win to avoid the Wooden Spoon.

And now that the Italians have seen off the French they will be more confident, with yet more pressure on Scotland.

What do Scotland need to do to beat Italy? They need to scrummage well from the start of the game, defend the same way as they did against England and score more points.

It was a less than triumphal England, and at least some of the pundits would have been shut up for a while, but now another hard, hard game looms.

I love the Six Nations.

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.

    Couldn't agree more John my boy - it was a belter.

  • Comment number 2.

    I said in an different post on the previous blog that all those Scottish doomsayers were wrong about a cricket score at Twickenham.
    As an Englishman, I'm proud of us and pleased to win but what I'd really like to say is well done to Scotland, by far the best team we (England) have played against and frankly, unlucky to lose the match today.
    Well played gentlemen, Robinson is a good coach, you have some good young talent and good luck in the world cup (as long as you don't beat England, of course...:)).

  • Comment number 3.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the game, albeit bitterly disappointed with the result. After the referee hobbled off the field, I must admit, I turned to a friend and said that karma had caught up with him. Never a yellow card offence, and some of the penalties given during the match were truly bizarre.

    Having said that, a much improved performance today. The defence was rock solid and we showed glimpses of real penetration in attack. I thought Jackson had a good game, he looks like he could be a good fly half for Scotland, and there were stand out performances from Ansbro, Lamont, Evans, Gray, Jacobson etc, and what a pair of try saving tackles from Paterson. I do feel that Evans is slightly wasted out on the wing, he always looks dangerous with the ball in hand, perhaps it's time to switch him back to centre to utilise that creativity.

    The back line posed a threat today which has largely been absent from our other games. The worrying aspect today was the lineout - less than 2 weeks since we dominated the line out against Ireland, it fell apart today, and the scrum again proved problematic. These need to be sorted against the Italians or we're going to be in trouble.

    An improved performance and certainly one to take confidence from going into the final game. I agree with the title of the article, we have to move on from here, beat Italy and avoid the spoon.

  • Comment number 4.

    Actually, John, England's try was scored just about a minute before Barclay returned to the fray.

    Forward pass too.

    The referee's performance, I think, is one of the worst I've seen for a while and for him to 'pull up' in the middle of a very promising attack in the England 22 with the English defence all over the place was a travesty. I thought the referee was out of his depth in that match. His decisions were poor: Barclay's sin-binning was incredible. The penalty was bad enough, and punishment enough, but a yellow card out of the blue? No warnings, and no conistent offending in the 'red zone' and the 'offence' did not stop a try scoring opportunity!! He's apparently known for being decisive on scrumming issues but always errs on the side of the dominant team. Here's a radical idea: how about erring on the side of the laws?

    Scotland was also undone by a shocking Ford. Sure he was good on the run but he's also there for the setpiece. With the tallest man on the field on his side he still fails: 3 on the trot in the first 10 to 15 minutes or so. Then the substitutions weakened the Scotland team (England's strengthened their team) principally with the arrival of one Mr Parks. The Scots had been great at keeping the ball and turned over a few English ones to boot. Jackson had a great take him off. Parks comes on promptly kicks the ball giving away possession and England score. He kicked the ball more than once, not finding touch but rather the arms of Cueto, Foden or Ashton. He even did this when with just minutes to go and Scotland were just 3 points behind and needed to keep the ball to try and score he kicked away possession. Is he STUPID or what???????????????????????????

    So, Scotland's excellent display was let down by poor refereeing, poor set pieces, esp the lineout on Fird's watch, and one particualrly poor piece of sustituting by Robinson who otherwise got everything else pretty much right.

    So, do we have a downer next week after this?

  • Comment number 5.

    Sorry, I meant Ford's watch not Fird's - whoever he is.

  • Comment number 6.

    It seems to me that Scotland need a few games before they start to play , so how about a couple of games prior to the start of the 6nations. Nothing to big, teams which are emerging , Romania, Portugal Spain etc.
    Overall, a very pleasing performance from Scotland, still a few errors to iron out.
    I am going to stick my neck on the block, if, and i mean IF Scotland can burst out the starting block and play the way they showed with passion i can see a healthy Scottish score board.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry John but we got beat by a pretty poor English team ... so no upbeat feelings here! We need to get the set piece sorted out - line outs and scrums were very poor and should not be at this level! i really like Ford as a player, he puts himself about a bit, but throwing is a skill that is very trainable and there is really no excuse for not being able to execute at this level. This is why he was initially not picked for the Lions and it showed him up again.

    Parks should not be in the squad, apart from poor decision making and kicking he made a shocking pass to De Luca - at least a metre behind him! He increasingly looks like a liability but unfortunately he will go to the WC as there is not time for another candidate!

    To be fair there were plus points - the defence was excellent, the forwards tackled like dervishes and at last Evans found some space! Jackson looked the part and should not have been taken off when he was. Cross seemed to dominate his opposite number when he came on and deserves a start next game.

    The refereeing was awful! The english constantly got on the wrong side of the ball at the breakdown and the ref did nothing! Although warned for his speech play Barclay was absolutely right the english constantly went off their feet at the breakdown to 'seal off' and protect their own ball and again were never punished. What did Barclay do to deserve the yellow card - a mystery! Cole constantly bound on Chunks arm and again the ref did SFA!

    Will we beat the Italians? It will be close, very close! Will we be ready for the WC - will we make it out of the group stages? Again very close, if it was next week probably not! If you don't or can't win your own set plays you will not win the game - end of!

  • Comment number 8.

    How on earth can Ford get any praise from you? I thought he was awful, and cost us any momentum, especially in the first half. All the effort by the whole team was completely undermind by his inept throwing.
    I must also question Robinson's decision to bring on Parks-he was dire, dire, dire. In fact, whereas the England side got a lift from their subs, we seemed to be adversely affected. On the plus side, our defensive effort was superb, Evans scored a great individual try, and the team gave it their all.
    The only trouble is, you don't get points for "gallant" defeats. That's four now out of four. What worries me is that until Evans scored, we still didn't threaten the oppsition's try line at all.
    At least Ashton didn't get to flaunt himself all over the place-and that't a great relief to me, as his pre-try/post try celebration winds me right up!

    We are where we deserve to be in the table because of our overall performance in the competition thus far. Yes, this showing was better, (to be fair, we could not get any worse), and England earned their pay today, but nil points is still nil points.

    What's vital now is to follow up this effort by beating Italy-it's essential.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well John, I wrote about doom and gloom after last week but was a bit excited about the changes to the team and I think AR got it pretty well on the button. My only concern is Ross Ford, he has been average in the loose of late but OK at lineout. Today he is awesome in the loose but a few howlers at lineouts. May be time to give Lawson a start.

    As you said, heroic losers an in fairness we clung on throughout the game with some unbelievable defence combined with tactical naivety by England. The possession and territory stats tell a story.

    Thats the negative out the way. Chunk, never rated him but was awesome today. Al Kellock's position must be in jeopardy as I'd put Hines in 2nd row and drop him and add Vernon to start as he is a fantastically dynamic player, leaving a wee space for KB (hope he's OK) or give Strokosch a start.

    Ruiridh Jackson played very well and was much improved and showed enough glimpses of skill to hold onto the shirt a bit longer. Lawson/Blair is a tricky one. Lawson's distribution was good but tactics lacking whereas Blair was tactically better but slower distribution.

    Jo Ansbro should be put on an SRU funded breading campaign for future talent, maturing by the game and allowed Lamont to get on the ball a bit more. Back three performed heroics in defence and I was delighted to see SD back in the blue.

    Mossy - almost a hundred years old and was one of the best on the piitch today. Oh, on that point Rishie Gray was the best player on the park, he is just getting better and better,

    Italy, well at Murrayfield we will take them, of that I am confident.

    Well done Scotland for giving us back some pride.

  • Comment number 10.

    John, when are you going to stand up and take notice that the national game is in more or less complete disarray at the moment? I'm sorry but we cannot take wins against Ireland, Argentina and S.A. as indicative of moving upwards and onwards when we capitulate to the Welsh, Irish, French and now the English in quick succession. What does it take for more Scottish ex-internationals to stand up and take notice that the infrastructure of Scottish rugby is simply ill equipped to deal with the trials of professionalism? 89 - 0 England vs. Scotland womens? 58 - 6 England versus Scotland U20s? 37 - 6 Ospreys vs Glasgow? 16 - 11 Edinburgh vs. Cardiff Blues? Need I go on? When are more people going to support the likes of Aitken and stand up to what Mckie et al are doing to the game in Scotland? We cannot rely on a 'brave' performance against England once every 12 months or so and to think that we can is naive. The sooner the highest tiers of management recognise that Scotland cannot progress and develop in this game and actually decide to do something about it is when we will properly turn the corner. Until then, we're simply papering over the cracks.

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    Brilliant game to watch, highly exciting heart thumping stuff. I'd wouldn't say it was as exciting as the Italy v France game obviously, but the quality of rugby was probably the best in the weekend.
    I feel people are being harsh on England/not giving Scotland enough credit. This is a world class England team. I reckon they aren't close contenders, but definitely the 2nd best team going into the world cup. NZ is the only team that can stop them. England played some brilliant rugby today, they had Scotland on the back foot for all of the 3rd quarter and it was only because Scotland found their defensive quality that held them out for so long. A simple mistake, brought by fatigue no doubt, by Evans when he got drawn in cost that try.
    Scotland defended immensely, it was good to see other players return to form, John Barclay played a good game for example, and the back row formed together brilliantly, much like we saw in November, with Richie Vernon and Strokosch (spelling) fitting in well. Personally I'm not a fan of Hines at back row, a top quality second row however, I feel he should be put on a bench that needs to increase in quality. Of course Scotland's weak point is at 12, Lamont is a fabulous 13 (and wing), but an average 12, Graeme Morrison is missed.
    Italy, I reckon we will win, we'd have a worse chance if they hadn't won yesterday. They are like scotland were last year, playing superbly but just not getting the results, it was have been a repeat of Ireland v Scotland last year if they still had 0 points. Also lineout very disappointing, for being the most solid part of our game, it was very poor today.

  • Comment number 13.

    Also, stop whining, I'm Scottish and it would have been a disgrace to call that a forward pass

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 - I'm Scottish and so is my wife!
    No it wasnt forward but straight as a die - same as Lawson's first line out throw. Talk about kickers coming on as a sub under pressure? That lineout was make or break under extreme pressure and he nailed it!!

  • Comment number 15.

    I think the team has made just about as much progress as it was reasonable to hope for.

    At the beginning of the Six Nations, I couldn't think of a single Scot who would be picked for a thirty-seven man Lions squad apart from Murray, whose selection would be controversial, were there to be a Lions tour rather than the World Cup later this year. Now I think Kellock and Gray would be shoo-ins, and there would be several other contenders, Murray apart. Not too bad, I think.

    Since it is a World Cup year, I think Scotland has a sufficiently balanced side to see off Argentina and go into the quarter-finals at least as runners-up in their pool. Not great, but that too is an advance on the betting before the Six Nations.

    And now there is some reason to hope for a really big game, and an upset somewhere along the line. Sure, disappointment may still be in the cards, but that was always true.

  • Comment number 16.

    Was it a yellow card offence when Deacon did the same thing against Wales? Yes - says the English fan. So why is Barclay's so difficult for you to understand?

  • Comment number 17.

    The improvement in Scotland's performance was there for all to see. In every department they were so much better than in their previous games - and unrecognisable as the team that played Wales at Murrayfield. I hope, however, that the Scottish public doesn't go easy on them.
    Unlike the previous rounds this was the first game that Scotland went into without any pressure of expectation. They had been written off from all quarters and were expected to be well beaten. (Even against France in Paris at the start of the championship they went with plenty of optimism from a good summer and autumn.) Against Wales they were expected to win and they proved unable to display a fraction of their potential.
    So what now? Do we do the British thing and laud the underdog for a stirring backs-to-the-wall performance? Because, you see, I regard this as a national weakness and not a strength (British, rather than Scottish. We all suffer from it). The fact that we can only deliver the goods when absolutely nothing is expected of us, that we do not dare to express ourselves until all is otherwise lost and the fat lady is clearing her throat in the wings. Where was this performance against Wales when a high-quality performance was expected? And where does this leave us against Italy? How can we ever make a march up the world rankings if we have to lose regularly enough to maintain underdog status and ensure that absolutely no one expects us to win?

  • Comment number 18.

    Many good performances but a few questions for AR to answer publicly...

    Why take off Lawson, Jackson, Ansbro when they are performing very well? I know you can't tell whether your subs are going to perform until you get them on the park, but there was no reason to try Parks et al.

    Why put De Luca anywhere near a Scottish team?

    Why not give Ross Ford some throwing practice? Maybe it's the codes used - he does sometimes look like he's trying to translate it or work it out? Though, he was good in the loose.

    Impressed by Cross and Strokosch. Not a great fan of S Lawson after last year's Welsh game, but, give him his due, dead straight throw to start.

    If we can pretend that we are playing England again this Saturday we should be ok. Problem is we will realise it is our bogie team Italy...

  • Comment number 19.

    Why the constant personal abuse of Nick de Luca? Aside from being unable to catch a pass 2 metres behind him I didn't see him do a thing wrong in his short spell on the pitch.

  • Comment number 20.

    Whatever happened to the age old custom of the opposing captain coming forward to check on injured players? I wasnt at the game, and perhaps the TV coverage didnt capture it, but I didnt see the English Captain (was it Easter in Tindall's absence?) come forward to check on Kelly Brown after being hit by Banahan. It would have been a nice touch if Banahan himself had come forward to check on his well being - is there going to be a citing as has been suggested in some papers this morning?

  • Comment number 21.

    As I have said in a previous post those pescy Scots! scared the life out of me. Barkley was yellow carded for constantly talking to the ref, i know it wasnt a yellow card but the ref had had a gutful of him constntly chatting back. There is some talk in earlier posts that Scotland were unlucky, and i agree they were but they were a pain in the bum as ever, they wrecked any quick ball by being ever so slightly in the way at every ruck, maul etc I will give them the benifit of the doubt and say they were legal but hey ho. England were slack and should have kicked the bejesus out of anyone on the wrong side and in the past i well remember the Scots were very good at that!

    The modern game is relient on a consistant ref and he was consistant! not godd but consistant. It was a good game and thank god for sky + so I could have a break i am getting to old for all this and the old ticker isnt great.

    As for next week the Scots will win but i hope the Italians make you Jocks as worried as you did to us. England should be too good for Ireland but if the Sweaties are on the edge of legal the Irish are well over the line and will need to be hammered by England and the Ref. Good luck Scotland and thanks for the game. See you in NZ.

  • Comment number 22.

    Yes was a case of nearly but not quite....we certainly did not get any breaks from the ref ...the sin binning was a sin. (don't want to be accused of being a whinging jock but still). I have a suspicion that England might have just deserved it but on the whole an immense Scottish performance in the cauldron of Twickenham.
    On a more general note sets scums remain a complete shambles with refs making wild guesses as to is/was to blame for what...when it comes down to it with penalties being handed out with complete abandon at set scums a team can no longer afford a set scrum anywhere in their own half.
    Reference Calcutta cup game and the ref whoever nowadays gives penalties for putting the ball in squint at a set scrum these days? Fair enough at line outs.

  • Comment number 23.

    From what I can remember of the game It seemed to me that Scotland had the more consistent phase play but no attacking cutting edge where as England had all the attacking cutting edge but no consistent phase play! Scotland can feel very hard done by. A couple of bounces of the ball or the 50 / 50 decisions going the other way and it could have been different.

    I did think however that England were very foolish in attack and a number of times decided to run tap penalties or penalty advantages in very kickable positions that could have put some distance on the scoreboard. I only wished they could have paid for this arrogance.

    I thought Jackson was immense and is my 1 criticism of Robinson to sub him when he did. One of his kicks went from 22 to 22 and turned defence into attack instantly. When Parks came on a kick from the same position either sliced out before the half way or missed touch. I just hope now that Robinson has the confidence to keep him on a little longer to develop for the future.

    #19 You hit the nail on the head by judging De Luca by the lack of mistakes he makes as oppose to what he actually does correctly. He is not fit for international rugby!

  • Comment number 24.

    4 - I think you'll find Andy Robinson said two words to Dan Parks - Kick it!! In fury at Max Evans running a ball from your half and getting turned over when there was acres of space behind the England line because of a turnover.

    20 - The play was 60 metres away from the injured player so there would have been an unnecessary delay to give time to either player to get back in to position for the lineout. I'm sure they would have been first to check on his well being once they got back to the dressing rooms. And what on earth should there be a citing for, the lad got his head in the wrong position, no way could you say Banahan deliberately knocked him out or even attempted to with his elbow, he just tried to barrel him out of the way - successfully.

    Barclay's sinbinning was harsh unless as somebody has said he was in the referee's ear the whole time. Didn't see that he did much wrong at the ruck though. I think it was harsh because it was the first time England had been in the scottish twenty two and it wasn't as if there had been lots of offences culminating in a yellow.

  • Comment number 25.

    John - much improved performance which we need to feed off both for the game against Italy and for our World Cup game against the English. Italy beating France should mean that the team do not take their foot off the gas and know that Italy will be coming to Murrayfield with winning on their minds.

    I think we should send our front 8 to Paris as ask the French if we can use their new scrum machine with a promise that we'll beat the Italians for them :) Should the props shirts have a loser area of material where the bind should be and have this a different colour from the rest of the shirt so it's (a) easier to get a bind and (b) obvious when the bind is not correct? Also, given the ref. can only see one side of the scrum, why does he need to at some point in the game ask his assistant to keep an eye on the other side? Should he not be doing this anyway, or for this phase of play bring on a 4th official to watch the other side of the scrum letting the assistant officiate the offside line etc?

    Anyway, all of this is to say that we will need to improve our scrum and quickly put Parisse on the ground. Their scrum half this season Semenzato has also been playing well and if we kick loosely Masi has shown the damage he can do when running the ball back.

    I think we'll largely see the same Scotland team take the field this weekend, if they all recover from their bumps etc. Kelly Brown - it is good to know he was well enough to attend the after match meal - must be a doubt, and the balance of the back row will be crucial. Barclay had his best game this tournament, and Andy Robinson has again singled Hines out for praise. However, I wonder if a 6 Hines, 7 Barclay 8 Vernon is as balanced as 6 Stroker, 7 Barclay 8 Vernon?

    Oh ...and I'd keep Jackson at 10. I can see why Andy brought on Parks as when he came on the week before he gave the team a lift, but I think Jackson did well and should start again this coming weekend.

  • Comment number 26.

    A good enough game. At least we didn't roll over and let England win. Indeed, by the end of it England looked the more exhausted of the teams.

    Highlight of the game for me has to be the Evans try, as he showed to all of Scotland what we're lacking; flair. That kick could have gone anywhere, but rather than continue the status quo of constantly running into men and hoping we get through, he took a tactical chance and succeeded. Scotland should be looking to him as an example of what to do. Make tactical choices, try things. The worst that can happen is you end up pushed back, but you're likely going to end up like that anyway if you don't do anything.

    "And it's played four and lost four for Scotland. It's an accurate record but could it have been different? Is this a really bad season? Have Scotland been unlucky? Are there signs of improvement and, if there are, does it matter given the loss? The defence was better, but we still lost."

    Yes, yes, yes and who knows. It should have been a win against both Wales and Ireland, but complacency and team choices ruined that. Yes, we've been unlucky, but we're our own worst enemy. Yes, it is a bad season, and if we go down the slippery slope of "well there's signs we're improving!" the SRU will continue the status quo that is killing off Scottish rugby.

    There's always signs of improvement, but by God we've been saying that for a decade. Perhaps it's time we moved from "signs of improvement" to "why aren't we winning?" That's what Robinson is trying to push forward for Scottish mentality. Think like England; we know we're going to win (no offense to English supporters) and if we don't, we clip people around the ear and start sorting it out.

  • Comment number 27.

    I read the Sunday Times before the match and, as ever, Stephen Jones got right up my nose! Only Eddie Butler can upset me more. Strange that, both clim to be Welsh but support England! In any event, his false sympathy with Scotland's 'plight' was to his usual poor standard and he predicted a 50 point deficit by half time! Oh really!

    We have been poor this season, the Welsh game being the worst example but we have still got some of our best players for a generation playing now. We are showing the green roots of recovery and I still believe AR is the best coach available - although some of his selection decisions have beggared belief. I think, collectively, the nation shuddered and shouted 'oh no' at the sight of Parks arriving as a replacement for Jackson who had been outstanding. To follow that up with DeLuca! For the person who questioned the slating of DeLuca......have you watched his international performances, ok that was a porr pass from Parks but he is out of his depth!

    As for the English..........conpletely over rated team. Did Johnson et al not see their constant infringements in the loose. Even Brian Moore felt the ref went against us.

    Barclay has had a poor season but was back on his game yesterday and boy did we miss him for these ten minutes!

    I think we will beat Italy with the minimum of changes. Ansbro has been the find of the season and I would just send Parks back to Australia.

    I think England at the World Cup may be our next major result!

  • Comment number 28.

    I agree that the game was a belter and I think it was a fantastically gutsy performance from Scotland. We had some bad luck but there is no point in complaining about that.

    I don't understand why, when we are having problems in the line-out, that we don't just go to full line-out and throw to 2 or 4. All this faffing about with jumpers running up and down can't help the hooker.

    I also don't understand why Jackson was subbed. He was having the best game I have ever seen him play and the sustitution just disrupted play. The substitution certainly was not dictated by what was happening on the pitch - so why do it?

    Anyway, a great game - the team did what we all asked them to do - disrupt the english, be first to the breakdown and tackle, tackle, tackle, and you can't complain about that. More of the same please Scotland!

  • Comment number 29.

    Poster 21 is spot on to point out that Barclay's constant mouthing off to the ref led to his yellow card.
    It was exactly the same against Ireland when Jacobsen was sin-binned for a nothing offence.
    Chunk kept his mouth shut (most of the time) at Twickenham and had a storming game.
    Get the lineout sorted and we will beat Italy but it's sure to be a nerve-wracking experience...

  • Comment number 30.

    Tactical decision. They changed the half backs in an attempt to kick up the pitch and secure drop goals/penalties. Sadly it didn't work. Jackson did have a wonderful game though, no doubt about that. First time i've seen Scotland really push hard with the ball without kicking, and when he did kick they were well marked.

  • Comment number 31.

    Like many internationals in the current 6 Nations the Referee had far too greater influence on the result.

    This is summed up by one occasion in the second half when Evans ripped the ball out of an opponent's arms before he had even gone to ground and he was penalised for not allowing him to release. Absolutley barking.

  • Comment number 32.

    John Barclay - yes it was a yellow. Firstly because it was a professional foul but Secondly (and perhaps more significant) he'd been getting right up the ref's nose which meant the ref was delighted to get him out of his ear for ten mins.

  • Comment number 33.

    "As for the English..........conpletely over rated team."

    Overrated by whom? I don't think anyone has claimed they're world beaters. At the very most the only claim is that they are the best team in the Northern Hemisphere and both the current 6N standings and the world rankings support that claim.

  • Comment number 34.

    In tune with a lot of the comments I'm proud of the way the team played, unfortunately yet again in glorious failure.

    But one other thing impressed me - Brian Moore's expert analysis. As a player he was the man we loved to hate, but as a pundit there are none better. He was incredibly unbiased, his comments inciteful and always very honest. He's a smart man who understands the game, and particularly the den of iniquity that is the front row, better than anyone I've heard.

    As a player I would have loved to have thumped you, as a pundit you're top class (in fact you probably were as a player as well, which is why you got right up our noses!)

  • Comment number 35.

    A much improved Scotland performance, albeit against a strangely sluggish England whose players (despite Johnson’s best efforts) looked as if their minds were already in Dublin. I just wish I didn’t have a sense of Groundhog Day- a half decent performance in defeat away from home with a key home game to follow in which Scotland (whatever Italy’s heroics on Saturday) will start favourites. I seem to recall that happened at the start of the 6N…….

    I have to say that England never actually looked like losing and managed to strangle the game with sheer weight of possession in the second half even if they didn’t do that much with the ball they had. Unless Scotland can get the set pieces sorted out they are going to struggle next Saturday- particularly as Italy managed to tighten up their line out against France by switching starting hookers. Ford’s line out throwing has been a shambles this time round; I’ve never been much impressed with Scott Lawson in the past but he does at least look as if he can consistently hit his line out jumpers at the moment and surely has to start. Ditto Cross; the scrum at least looked as if it might avoid being penalised every time once he was on.

    To a considerable extent the game turned on substitutions; Johnson’s mass switch clearly sharpened up his side when the game was still in the balance while Robinson’s took momentum away from Scotland (Jackson was having a really good game, Rory Lawson had done little wrong and Ansboro was beginning to make inroads- they all got pulled off for replacements who added nothing). Back to the old issues about Robinson as a selector…..

    As far as the referee was concerned, I thought he was typically French in that he allowed both sides to get away with murder in the rucks and Barclay may have been a shade unlucky to be carded- on the other hand I suspect he (like Jacobson in the Ireland game) got his marching orders as much for endless mouthing off as for one specific offence. Scotland are just beginning to have a bit of a discipline problem in this area.

    It was interesting to see that England’s attempt to take a quick(ish) line out with the “wrong” ball was spotted. I wonder if this would have been noticed but for events in Cardiff on Saturday evening. As far as the “wrong ball” try is concerned, I can sympathise with Irish annoyance- especially as you can be sure that if, say, Best had tried to call that kind of quick throw to Stringer the ball boy would most assuredly have remembered the laws. Is there a case for having “neutral” teams of ball boys? As far as “going upstairs” on the incident is concerned, in fairness to Caplan (not words that come easily from me….) he did ask his touch judge if it was the correct ball and received an affirmative answer; he didn’t really have much option but to award the try. Is there a case for introducing a “challenge” system like cricket whereby each captain has the right to ask for a limited number of reviews of try scoring situations even when the ref has awarded the try (or chalked it off)? This could cover things like obstructions, offsides on cross-kicks and even forward passes. Obviously the initial decision would stand unless the TMO saw very strong reasons to override it. I’m not a huge fan of the video ref system which often seems to waste ages confirming decisions which were obvious to the naked eye while sometimes doing sides out of tries which would be awarded without a quibble in less elevated levels of the game but if you are going to use the technology then use it wholeheartedly.

  • Comment number 36.

    I said I wouldn't comment again but......

    Very proud of Scotland again. Was so annoyed after the New Zealand and Wales games because we didn't turn up and didn't even make games of them. I can take losing if we perform well and make a game of it. I feel we did this on Sunday. We don't expect miracles just a good/ spirited performance. Yes, we still lost but we didn't give in!
    A wonderful game in Rome and well deserved by the Italians. Well Done. I'll be at Murrayfield in full voice supporting Scotland till the end. GO SCOTLAND, WE DESERVE A WIN!

  • Comment number 37.

    BBC Inverdale etc. constantly goiung on for the last 2 week about the grand slam was on the table only Ireland could upset this and then "The world Cup"

    I thought Scotland were magnificent, didn't understand Parks coming on when he did. I fear although he was correct Barclay were binned after the mouthing. Very very harsh. Though the pass for the try was forward but not complaining to much about it as we had one ignored earlier.
    Maybe ford needs to go on the subs bench not sure. Ref mmm thought some strange decisions but to be fair his linesman needs to help about binding, linesman call Evans for not releasing. Ref didn't seem to see either team lying over so at least he was consistent not the worse we have had.

    I would start with exactly the same starting line up if possible. If Brown not fit then either Vernon or Beatie at 8 (prefer Beatie) if at flanker then Stroch.

    By the way did we notice No De Luca no 7 point loss in the first 5 minutes. Build confidence and go from there. Made no impact when he came on, no criticism for drop pass it was a shocking pass.

    Please more of the same.

  • Comment number 38.

    33.........over rated by Stephen Jones in any event, John Inverdale apparently and, from my vantage point, the vast majority of the charioteers inside the cabbage patch!

  • Comment number 39.

    John "one-eyed" Beattie!

    Look at the scoreboard and stop moaning about the referee

  • Comment number 40.

    Yeah pretty accurate with your comments there John. I however will be a bit more brutal with mine. First off I thought it was a really exciting game from start to finish. To summarise;

    - Jackson looks the real deal, for only his second start and to come out at Twickenham and play like that, looks extremely encouraging. Dare I say it I think he could be one of the great scottish stand-off's.

    - Lawson played very well at scrum-half and linked well with Jackson, I think he is scotlands no.1 and should continue to start from now on.

    - Ross Ford had a poor game, hitting your man in the lineouts is the very basics of the game. There has been much talk of turning him into a prop in the papers, maybe they should pursue this avenue, as a hooker he is not the best.

    - Scrummaging is turning into a national disgrace, we need to be far more aggressive in the front 5. This was a weakness England expoited to the max along with their maulling game.

    - Im afraid Robinson made his first big mistake as scotland coach when he took off Jackson and Lawson after 53 mins, and replaced with Parks and Blair. For some reason Robo lost the plot and thought we should be kicking to the corners so ordered Parks to do so. Parks just hasnt got it at international level, although he is an excellent club player. Blair was poor when he came on and his passing was all over the place. I certainly noticed a drop in performance when the half backs were changed.

    - Ref didnt help us in first half and the flaws of Rugby have been exposed once again as in the Welsh/ireland game. Too open to interpretation and the refs seem to dictate what happens. At least 4/5 penal;ty decisions that went Englands way that everyone was scrathing thier heads at, which ultimately lost us the game.

    - Finally we had England scared and were much livelier in the backs, which is great. We should have had them yesterday and we should be kicking ourselves that we didnt win this game...

  • Comment number 41.

    Good game finaly Scotland played...

    Ford!!!!! We all saw it, poor throwing in again!!!!!

    De Luca when he came on reminded me of a headless chicken!!!! last cap with any luck.

    Jackson still another season, but had a great game, WC to soon for him. The new Rutherford in the making, with any luck.....

    Other than that I have nothing to complain about LOL....

    Oh yes, great sole try from Max... Shouted so loudly at the try the cats ended up clinging to the celling LOL...

  • Comment number 42.

    In 320 minutes of rugby so far, Scotland have produced about 60 minutes of decent play. Is this a fair return on 10 million pounds worth of investment?
    can we beat Italy-yes we can, but to be honest, the Italian side look more dangerous this year by far than us, so it will be the luck of the bounce on the day.
    How on earth does every year pan out like this? Do we never learn? Can't score enough tries, don't look as if we are able to break defences, kicking when the ball should be in hand and vice versa!
    Yes, we defended well, yes we gave it 100%, BUT that is not enough to win any tournament.

    I want my Scotland to win, but I do fear that one victory after this blip against England will be reassurance to those who feel that we are "going in the right direction."

    LOOK AT THE TABLE!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 43.

    "Kelly Brown was assaulted by Banahan" - A fore arm to the face is no way to avoid a rugby tackle. Even Brian Moore wasn't convinced when he tried to defend it as a "lowering the shoulder". Get him cited and let the panel to make a decision.

  • Comment number 44.

    Alex, you are spot on. Ford's throwing is aweful and De Luca has to be removed immediately.

    I was wearing an orange fluffy wig, long ginger beard, scotland top, and kilt! Loving it.

    I know its frouned upon to criticise the refs, but I really do worry about the quality of refereeing at this level. Those penalties were bizzare for both England and Scotland, the yellow card seemed really strange, and one (possibly two) of the passes leading up to the England Try were forward. The mistake by the referees in Cardif were terrible too.

    Too much rests on the shoulders of what seems to be pressurized and panicked referees, similar to that of football. Rugby players are generally way more respectful to refs and we have the TMO to use too. Why are we still getting it so wrong? These decisions determine the outcome of the game, and it really spoils the event when the difference between winning and losing depends on the performance of the ref than the performance of the players.

    I really hope the IRB increase their attention to this.

  • Comment number 45.

    As classical games go it was a classic but I feel I agree with the majority of posters who got more out of Scotland actually putting up a real fight with plenty of passion thrown in rather than the quality of rugby on view. England were poor and made to play poorly as a result of decent numbers at the breakdown. It was great to see Scotland win so much turnover ball (which had been missing in all the previous 6N games) and it was as well they did because their set piece play was appalling. I said 2 years ago that Parks should never play for Scotland ever again and now I mean it, really really mean it. Jackson performed with aplomb and wasn't overwhelmed by the occasion at all unlike his opposite number who had a shocker in comparison to the previous 3 games where he had been the stand out player. And I am so so so so glad that Ashton wasn't able to cross for a try.....

  • Comment number 46.

    I've made three attempts to post comments. Why are they not appeareing?

  • Comment number 47.

    The referee was poor, but for both sides. It's very convenient for so many people to ignore the fact that John Barclay was consistently lying all over the ball and constantly handling on his knees. The yellow card was merited, but simply not for the offence it was given for. Such is life.

    England were poor, but ultimately created so much more than Scotland, as the stats illustrate. Scotland's only try came through individual brilliance, and not sustained intelligent team work.

    The English pack failed to grasp the breakdown, as they also did against France. Deacon, for all his work rate, is simply doing a holding job until Lawes is fit. With Lawes and Croft in the pack England have a much more dynamic and athletic look. However, I wish that England had simply kicked to the corners yesterday instead of looking for that long sweeping move all the time.

    Nice to see you're still trotting out the anti-English lines, Mr Beattie. Regular as clockwork.

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry am i the only one who saw the hand over the top of the ruck from barkley knocking the ball from Danny Care as he tries to pass (151.33 in the replay on the Iplayer) and then the referee clearly signalling the penalty was from knocking the ball out of the scrum halfs hand as play goes off to the left? Does no one else see this? Barkley leans over the ruck from being back on his knees while Care is shaping to pass, Care is not even looking at the ruck and all of a sudden Care doesn't have the ball and is throwing his hands in the air at the same time as the referees arm goes up. Same offense as Deacon got carded for the other week and is a straight Yellow in the red zone.

    Please feel free to comment if you see it differently.

  • Comment number 49.

    Number 44, your comments regarding refs are spot on! In my view, many of them enjoy making themselves the centre of attention.......(welsh man Scotland V ireland) or, tend to award penalties to the more fancied team........normally NZ, SA or England. This was the case in point on Sunday. Most seem to agree Barclay should not have gone off for the offence he did but justify it by saying he was either constantly offending or mouthing......I didnt know you could get yellow carded for mouthing off..and if he was constantly offending he should have been penalised and warned. This decision killed the game and provided England with a grand slam opportunity! His other decisions left a lot to be Max for not releasing the tackler when he ripped the ball off him standing up!

    The IRB must do something about these standards!

  • Comment number 50.

    The Italian game now represents the real litmus test for our season overall. A convincing win would demonstrate that we have learned from our mistakes and can approach the RWC in a justifiably buoyant yet focussed mood.

    A loss against Italy would see us in tatters. The game will be an intiguing test of our character and abilities.

    Players mouthing off at the referee and constantly chewing his ears appalls me. Rugby must not go down that ridiculously petulant football route. Players should keep their traps shut and get on with it. Serious grievances should be voiced through the team's Captain having a quick and quiet word with the ref. If the ref allows his judgement to be swayed by a team's bickerings then he's not a good professional and should stand down for somebody else who is.

    That's the first time in my entire life I've had the time of day for Brian Moore. He was insightful, impartial and entertaining.

    I'd never seen Banahan play before. Holy smoke. He looks like the result of some laboratory madness when DNA from a stevedore, an oak tree and a buffalo were mixed in the same test tube. Even powerful runners don't break the line very often nowadays. It was glorious to see Evans and Paterson always looking for the gap instead of the contact. I marvelled at their skills and bravery.

    It was a subdued and disjointed England performance. I'd put that down largely to the competitiveness of the Scottish forwards. They fought well.

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    #51 one-eyed you say mmm.

    From memory the yellow card was the only time (first time) England made it into the red zone. Brian Moore hardly the biggest Scottish fan (but truely impartial on Saturday) said the try scoring pass was forward (I wasn't sure until you see it from above and then there is no doubt it was).
    Close game could have gone either way but Yellow was harsh considering first offense (spotted) anywhere near the red zone. Warning would have been fairer I would suggest but granted strict (very strict) enforcing of the rules could make it a yellow. If you going to be that strict there would have been about 8/9 Yellows with the majority going against England.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'll try again! Thank you, Scotland for an uplifting performance on Sunday. Evan's try was a thing of beauty and I would not concur with those who say that otherwise we failed to threaten the English line. Our passing interchanges and offloads frequently had the English defence in some disarray and at the point where the referee's running-gear collapsed under him we seemed to have a decided numerical superiority on the right flank which promised a try.
    One of the most telling statistics is the number of mistakes each team made, in which respect Scotland were superior by a factor of almost one to three. The high number of English errors can be largely attributed to Scotland's combative tackling and engagement at the breakdown. The comment of England's man-of-the-match, the flanker James Haskell, that this was the hardest game he had ever played in, tells us a lot. However, tennis parlance can be helpful in analysing these mistakes more deeply as "forced" or "unforced" errors. Whereas the English errors were mostly forced, once again unforced errors proved costly to Scotland, for example, Lawson's dropping of a perfectly accurate offload when he was in the clear and hitting the line at pace in the English 22-metre area. Perhaps a try was lost! At other times similar unforced errors have ceded territorial position or even tries to the opposition.
    I am a little saddened that some contributors continue to vilify individual players, Nick de Luca the particular target of their vitriol. What could even the best centre in the world have done with a pass delivered 1 metre behind his back? Rugby is very much a team game and the level of performance of an individual is very much enhanced or hindered by what his team-mates do around him. We have seen the transformation in performance in this match of someone perceived as one of our best players, John Barclay, from his substandard displays in previous tests. The dynamism and good play of (most of) his 14 team-mates were instrumental in this transformation. Whatever faults there were, individual and collective, an astute coach like Andy Robinson will identify them in post-match analysis and rectify them in coaching sessions and by selection. We should be happy with the considerable improvement and encouraging our team to attain greater heights in the next match and to put on a stirring display against Italy.
    However, our relative euphoria over this latest performance shouldn't be allowed to mask the unsatisfactory state of Scottish rugby as a whole, as Robert #10, so correctly states. The whole Scottish rugby community, parents, players, coaches, spectators, administrators and entrepreneurs, has a part to play in the renaissance and too often we seem to be too ready with excuses for inaction. Being too out of the swim of things here in the Highlands I feel ill-equipped to comment on the efforts of the SRU itself. Are they truly as bad as some would suggest? Perhaps the renaissance is already underway. However, I can confidently point a finger at our media, especially the medium of television (viz. "Reporting Scotland"), which seem determined to marginalise not only rugby but all sporting endeavour in Scotland bar football. Rugby aficionados may be a minority but they are a large and passionate minority who deserve better treatment. The media, properly directed, could be such a powerful tool in driving the renaissance!
    Regarding refereeing, decisions made at the scrum presently can have a pivotal influence on the outcome of a game. Street-smart front-rows like Ireland's are masters at inducing the referee to give unjustified penalties -- or yellow cards -- against their opposite numbers; and, at the least, constant collapses and resets are tiresome and time-consuming. Theosportsfan #25 has a good idea as a solution. I would suggest that props should be compelled to lay their outer hands, palm-down, over the backs of their opposite numbers and keep them there until the scrum is over.
    Finally, should Banahan be cited? Certainly! His deliberate stiff-arm "hand-off" (N.B. the term, HAND-off) was potentially more dangerous than a bad high tackle.

  • Comment number 54.

    oh my word! I still don't think I have calmed down since yesterday. A suoer performance from the boys in blue. It has been a long time since they have played with such determination, and dare I say it, aggression. Every ruck the flew into I thought they were going to turn over. Now we must bottle that up and release it on Saturday again to take care of Italy.

    #51, maybe we are biased towards our own countries but I was watching the game an Irishman yesterday (a hooker no less) and he was tearing his hair out at the decisions against us so maybe we are justified to complain. I will however say that we made errors at crucial times and England punished us for them so hats off to the players.

    Regarding Banahan, when I first saw the incident I thought he had just barged his way through. It was untill the replay that I realised how he had managed it and IMHO feel he should be cited. This is not sour grapes, lets be honest he's a man mountain, but the use of the forearm at that speed could snap someone's head back with enough force for a SERIOUS neck injury, hence the citing. I don't believe for a second Banahan did it with malicious intent.

    Well played Scotland but we must, MUST, perform to the same level or improve again on Saturday. It will be my 8th trip to Murrayfield on Saturday, any chance I can see my first Scotland try at Murrayfield? good luck boys

  • Comment number 55.

    #54 I discussed the Welsh line-out debacle with an experienced Welsh referee who told me that everything was fine and dandy with the throw-in and no law was infringed! We can all be guilty of bias at times.

  • Comment number 56.

    I love the varying views of the Yellow Card.

    There are two factors:-

    1. PROFESSIONAL FOUL - deliberate act of foul play designed to prevent a try - could have just been a penalty BUT ref perfectly entitled to show a yellow as in the above cited example of Deacon(Eng v Fra)

    2. CHAT - more controversial but if you are chipping at the ref to the extent that he says 'are you going to keep this up all game - Shut up' you should not expect too many favors from him when you get caught. Sorry but professional players should be brighter than that. The ref probably just wanted some piece and quiet for ten mins.

  • Comment number 57.

    To a neutral this game was woefully poor. There was a complete lack of procession on the part of both sides; numerous handling errors, low skill levels, poor decision making and a complete lack of invention and creativity. The only moment of truly inspired rugby was the Scottish try otherwise it was simply dire. Scotland played little better than they did against the All Blacks in the autumn and frankly England have gone backwards. All and all this is the worst 6 nations I can recall. France are a joke, Wales and Ireland are going nowhere. If the production of this sort of muck does not get punished at the RWC it will send many a viewer into a long snooze.

  • Comment number 58.

    Okay, so it was an improvement and once again we did okay against the 'Old Enemy' but when are we going to string these performances together? A mark of a good team is performing consistently, regardless of our opposition.

    For me, there was still too many errors and missed opportunities. I'm sure Andy, Steady and Gregor will analyse the tape and recognise at least 3 try scoring opportunities that weren't exploited.

    Overall England deserved their win and only looked 'sluggish' because the Scots starved them of possession for long periods, not allowing them to build up too much momentum. If I was an English supporter I'd be very pleased we came through a very difficult game against a side capable (on their day) of upsetting just about anyone.

    I was delighted to see Rhuaridh Jackson play well. Chunk (Jacobsen) has been one of the consistent members of the team along with Sean Lamont and they once again played very well. I agree with Brian Moore, that Richie Gray was one of the best performers of both teams on Sunday and had Scotland won, he may well have got the man of the match. Ross Ford played much better, in the loose, but if we had had a solid lineout and scrum, the result may well have been different. Scott Lawson cam on and performed very well. He is breathing down Fords neck and wouldn't be surprised if he is given a start against the Italians. Scott's lineout throwing is better and in a pack going backwards, his crisp, clean hook at the scrum gives us an opportunity to move the ball from the base.

    If Andy is brave enough, I'd make Scott Lawson for Ross Ford the only change for Italy but it's very close. Scott will probably give away more penalties but like I said gives a wee edge to the pack.

    I hate saying it at this early stage but Scotland's new Italian forwards coach needs to prove himself quick smart as the set piece seems to have slipped dramatically since Steve Scott left for Sale.

    I expect the boys to push on and perform even better against Italy but we as Scotland supporters (of all sports) have become accustomed to expecting the worse!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    I do not think the ref was bias. Pattersons forward passabout 90 sec before the try would have ruled out Scotlands try if given. Scotland went in to the side and spent so much time on the wrong side of the ruc NZ must be over the moon.
    Scotland will not beat Italy. They do not have the passion for the game Italy has, unless they play England.
    Scotland looked above average because of Englands mistakes and the failure of the refs to see what was infront of them. Lets not get carried away. What you are saying is Scotlands best performance is when they lost to England. Well that should ge everyone fired up for the Italy game I dont think.
    Oh and it was a yellow card same offence as Deacons in the first match.

  • Comment number 60.

    Whilst I'm mighty proud of the performance, it simply worries me that when we give 100% effort and perform well, we still come up short.

    As a proud Scotsman and an optimist, I will however focus on the positives ahead of next weeks 'climax' against Italy at Murrayfield.

    At the start of the tournament I genuinely thought we could be walking out at that match with a chance to win the tournament - as it stands we have to win, and win in style to realistically take anything positive from this campaign.

    We have shown our usual spirit, and that I'm glad to say is underpinned by some hugely hungry - and talented - players pulling on the shirt.

    Jackson has done very well, as has S Lamont. Ansbro has been consistent and Max Evans once again proved he can provide much needed zip and spark.

    I'm massively disapointed that our scrum and line-out have regulalry underperformed. A front 3 of Jacobsen, Lawson and Cross should start against Italy to demonstrate to Ford and Murray (who hopefully would have been dropped if he'd not been able to hide behind his religious preferences) that poor performance, regardless of reputation will not be settled for.

    Would like to see Vernon and Strokosch in the back row together.

    Scrum half contonues to be a mess for me - Blair has never reached the level which took him on a lions tour, and whilst Rory Lawson has been more consistent he has lacked belief in his decisions and his execution at time has been poor (can we not ban the box kixk please!?).

    The backs have actually been pretty decent - I just hope we can develop greater consistency in selection (injury permitting) and build an understanding in our backs which we can use as a more threatening attacking platform.

    Maybe this is just as good as we are going to get...

    However, with the likes of Evans, Ansbro, Jackson, and the future captain and star big Richie Gray, we have the core of something to be proud of, despite our obvious limitations at the highest level.

    I believe we'll finish the 6 Nations with a win at Murrayfield, and I hope we can build on that into the World Cup.

    Let's show those Pescy Italians that we're still a force to be reckoned with.

    Good Luck boys...

  • Comment number 61.

    'we certainly did not get any breaks from the ref ...the sin binning was a sin. (don't want to be accused of being a whinging jock but still).'

    Wow so much bitter whinging from the Scots...

    Looking at the stats gives a fair impression of the game, England played all the rugby but made too many errors for it to really show on the scoreboard. Scotland defended valiantly, but they need to show a lot more going forwards.

    Yes the ref was inconsistent, but please open the other eye when criticising him. Twice when England were in the Scots 22 Poite inexplicably cancelled penalty advantages when there had been no advantage which would have been a simple extra six points. Every single scrum saw the Scots binding on the arm, and despite this they were still going backwards. There were at least a half dozen occasions where the Scots line was offside but the referee missed it. The yellow card was for a cynical professional foul to slow the ball down 5m from the try line. You might get away with it, but chances are you'll be binned for that. It happened to Deacon earlier the six nations and it was the right decision, as was Barclay's yellow at the weekend.

    The ref got some calls wrong, but to suggest he was biased against Scotland is just groundless bitter nonsense.

    Good luck for next week. I can see your scrum getting annihilated by the Italians, but hopefully you'll be able to do some damage with the ball in hand and exploit the weaknesses in their backline. Despite the weaknesses of the current Scottish team it would seem harsh for them to pick up the wooden spoon.

  • Comment number 62.

    Sorry if this seems like an obvious question, but how on Earth can anyone get away with binding on an opponent's arm at a scrum?

    The ref is watching on one side. The linesman is watching on the other. They both know it's a classic cheat to look out for. So why does it still go on all the time?

    Really, this pfaffing about at scrums is getting very wearing.

  • Comment number 63.

    Scotland needs to sort out the scrum Italy need to kick their goals. Think what a differance that would have made to this years table.

  • Comment number 64.

    Scottish complaints about refereeing? What about the ridiculous decision by Peter Allan as assistant ref in the Wales vs Ireland game? No wonder there are no Scottish referees in the international panel.

    As a general point, what does the audience think about prima donna international referees such as Jonathan Kaplan?

  • Comment number 65.

    I have never read such absolute drivel in all my days......

    if england could only 'get up' for one game a year i would be disgusted, the scotland vs wales game a few weeks back was a prime example of this. a half-hearted, mediocre attempt, lacking in passion, intensity and ability.

    so well done scotland, you came to twickenham propelled on hundreds of years of hate filled history and in your big game, your cup final, came away with nothing

    the statistics showed that all this 'excellent' play from scotland did not actually involve them having the ball, and if we hadn't made soooooo many handling errors the score would have reflected this

    so in conclusion

    we were at our worst
    you were at your best

    good luck with that wooden spoon

  • Comment number 66.


    If you can get this cranked up about a Rugby match maybe you should be seeking professional help.

  • Comment number 67.

    palalessandro, The reason your entries went missing is you babble a lot and most of it is tosh. "Compelled to lay their outer hands, palm-down, over the backs of their opposite numbers and keep them there until the scrum is over." What utter rubbish !

  • Comment number 68.

    what a game! Scotland came out with fight and a re-newed enthusiasm, and self belief! Thought the team worked very well.

    V impressed with Jackson, been watching his game come on at Glasgow and he certainly proved that he is worthy of a starting place in the Scotland squad. I think he came off ten minutes too early, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    Glad to hear that Kelly Brown is fine. It's horrible to see things like that happen. We lost our composure for about ten mins or so after that happened, along with the sin-binning of Barclay. However, it has to be said Evans try was a fantastic one!

    It would've been great to have been able to say that the win was Scottish, but seeing them play with self belief, to see them play like that is inspiring. I'm proud that I'm Scottish, and that those players are the makings of the Scotland team.

  • Comment number 69.

    Scotland have had a disappointing Championship, but it is rubbish to say they only "get up" for England. Anyone can say "What if". "What if" Scotland's line out hadn't malfunctioned? "What if" Cross had started and the Ref had interpreted the scrum differently? "What if" Lawson had held on to that pass. "What if"the ref hadn't blown up injured when Scotland had a good scoring opportunity.
    This was an honourable and spirited Scottish performance away from home against an England side that was not fully firing, but partly because Scotland made it difficult for them.
    If Scotland had gone down not got in England's faces they could very easily have been on the wrong end of a big defeat - so all credit to them.

    I am eating my words and my hat today. I honestly thought Scotland could be in for a drubbing and I thought AR had gone completely mad picking Jackson again. I am delighted to say - "Oh how wrong I was" and "Shame on me for having such little faith".

    Yes, we have put up with honourable failure for far too long and no we cannot be happy to accept it. But there are positives to be drawn.
    I am thrilled everytime Mossy pulls on the Scottish shirt and puts in another great performance - as well as the two heroic last ditch tackles (did I say his defence was suspect?!) but he always looked sharp and creative with the ball in hand and kicked a great high pressure goal.
    There have been some really great finds this tounament that provided they remain injury free will serve Scotland well - Jackson, Ansbro, and , of course Richie Gray.

    I too would give Geoff Cross and Scott Lawson a start against Italy. I think Scotland are a grittier more steely team now and provided they sort ut the Scottish set scrum will sort Italy. I think they will sort the line out out during the week and Italy will not be the force in that area that England were.

    Boy would I love to be at Murrayfield cheering the boys on for that one!!
    I think those lucky enough to be there could see a very exciting game.

  • Comment number 70.

    Persius #69 Good to read another enthusiastic and constructive piece from you

  • Comment number 71.

    To the posters trying to defend Nick De Luca, explain why he gave up and didn't play the whistle after receiving the ball from Parks? One of the first things you are taught when learning the game.

  • Comment number 72.

    Jeez, what would this blog look like if Scotland actually played exciting rugby and won? Sure, credit to Scotland they played to a standard something like an international side should, just basic stuff nothing dynamic in there, but they LOST and, to be honest, apart from a bit of Max Evans magic, never looked like scoring a try - feet on the ground please. He seems a reasonable decent bloke, commited and passionate, but Robinson had the same effect on England; solid enough, spirited and gutsy, but good teams can defend all day against it as no imagination in there.

  • Comment number 73.

    As far as I am concerned the half time score should of been 3-9 to Scotland.
    The yellow card was as bad a decision as the yellow chunk received in previous match. Even if Barclay was wittering on to the ref (ball being sealed off at a majority of collision areas and no action taken by ref was his main topic) it has no bearing and should not influence any other decision the ref may have to make. England are a team with great resources and a fine record, their opposition, just like any team that has a fixture at Old Trafford, will raise their game, if you do not there is a chance you could go down in history for the wrong reasons. I believe AR will be questioning some of his choices. I was, I had put my money where my mouth was and had £20 on Scotland to win because I liked the changes. My only worry (apart from the bench) was Mossy, only because I rate Fodden so highly, I was delighted for him and glad that age is of no importance (something I have had an issue with - not toilet issues, selection,). Also, what a fine game the brace of Ritchie's had, I have played with the shorter one and know how dynamic he is. Great to see the bite back. Might sound funny but £20 well spent In my view because for 70 minutes I was counting my winnings.

  • Comment number 74.

    Neville #27,

    Yer dreamin!

  • Comment number 75.

    Come on guys, cynically slapping the ball down, 5 metres from your line is almost always a yellow card... I don't see what the fuss is about. As for the scrum - as ever, about 10 penalties to choose from, by either side, at almost every scrum. But England undoubtedly had dominance, so you'd have to say Poite's refereeing was fair. In fact, Scotland seemed to just stand up when the pressure came on a couple of times, and that went unpunished.

    Regarding the Cueto 'forward' pass. Looked flat to me - and in any case, there was a definite forward pass in the build up to the Evans' try, so worked out fair.

    I, unlike some naive journalists/fans, was never in any doubt that this would be a very difficult game for England. Scotland have played well throughout the tournament, but perhaps been slightly unlucky, whereas England have been slightly fortunate... But luck always plays a part in sport! It was a frustrating game for an English fan. Scotland scrapped incredibly well, and England played quite naively in the first half. Although if it wasn't for Paterson's try-saving tackle, or if Wood had gone over in the corner, I couldn't help but feel the game might've got away from Scotland.

    Honest gut-feeling is that Ireland will win on Saturday, but fingers crossed...

  • Comment number 76.


    I couldn't have said it better myself (coming from a proud Scotsman).

    I said prior to this game that if we ran England close all the amateurish displays this campaign would be forgotten. After the French game I wondered if I had watched the same match as everyone else with the congratulations at how well we played, a French team playing in second gear managed to beat us! I've had a similar feeling with all the others too.

    Was it an exciting game? Absolutely. To claim it is for any reason other than we dragged England down to our level just shows our lack of ambition however. Are we really satisfied putting in one display per 6N? England looked dangerous every time they ran the ball, our excellent scramble defense was all that kept us in the game. Evans' try was a piece of individual skill but other than that I felt we couldn't have scored if we'd played all week.

    Professional rugby in Scotland is on a slippery slope, two teams producing average talent in front of low crowds isn't encouraging confidence in the future. People's loyalties lie with their local clubs, not some financially propped up corporate franchises set up by marketing-types based off a perceived demographic. The pool of talent is too small, there's not enough competition for places so it's no wonder the players that pull on the jersey only look semi-interested at times. These guys are professionals, they're payed to play rugby...thats all, no other jobs to worry about or fitting in training around other commitments like days gone bye. We shouldn't be happy with them making the type of mistakes you would be disappointed seeing from schoolboys. Yet time and time again, back from the days of Frank Hadden we've been hearing that we're making progress. I'm sorry but we aren't, the Six Nations tables do not lie and it's the same mistakes: poor execution, poor handling and poor decision making that have been the bane of the Scottish internation side since professionalism.

    Italy have saved us from the wooden spoon since they entered the championship, they've started targetting Scotland as their win-able fixture each year. They are improving and we aren't. It's only a matter of time until we are the annual whipping boys.

    The SRU needs to get its finger out, its mismanagement of the professional game is the cause of our slow demise into the depths of second-tier international rugby. Don't get me started on Massimo Cuttitta either, what has he done to our scrum?

  • Comment number 77.

    Typical Scotland...when they lose a match they have to blame something or someone. A number of you are an embarrassment to your country. Stop whinging and accept defeat graciously. Just face it, you LOST to an England team that on the day were playing atrociously. That tells you a lot about Scotish rugby at the momment. Stop looking for excuses and sort your team out.

  • Comment number 78.


    Engalnd's errors were not unforced. Think back to the England v All Blacks in November when New Zealand spilled the ball on many counts which was uncharacteristic. That is why England stay in touch with the AB's. This was not the case on Sunday... Scotland did put pressure on England so much so that their game was error strewn.
    England were lucky that Scotland were not good enough to capitolise on their mistakes.
    I do think that if England to not sharpen up come world cup time Scotland might just take them in an arm wrestle on a neutral venue.

  • Comment number 79.


    I have to agree with you, though Scotland played well, the England team played to the ref better and didn't whine at the ref and just go on with it unlike big temper tantrum John Barclay complaining all the time. I think Scotland could have won with a better team choice and individual players not letting the team down, you mean look at Richie Gray and Joe Ansbro; youngest players in the team yet they like they have been there longer than guys with 40 caps. I think Robinson needs to make some harsh changes to give players a boot and realise they have to earn their place in the team rather than having the mind set that their place is secure.

  • Comment number 80.

    Here Here #36. For the first time this 6N we turned up. Hardly any turnovers and very few mistakes. Totally agree with Rab that we don't expect to win every game but we do expect our team to give their all and the senior players to lead from the front.I think that the game against Italy next week will be a cracker. Have taken a day off work so I can vegetate in front of the box and watch all 3 games. Recon Ireland will fancy their chances in Dublin and that game should be a cracker too.
    I'm a big fan of Ross Ford in the loose but he needs to sort his throwing in. I think He needs a reality check and should be on the bench next week with Scott Lawson taking his place. Look what it done for Sean Lamont's game!. As for Dan the man I don't think that we should get rid of him because when on song he is one of the best tactical kickers around and sometimes we need to play like that. Dr Cross had a good game too
    Also agree with all the posts about the refs performance and that they love to being in the limelight as apposed to being consequent when doing their job. I couldn't understand some of the decisions either. I also believe that the better teams in the world game get the benefit of the doubt when playing teams further down the ladder. A good example is Richie McCaw getting away with everything at the breakdown time and time again. I think many refs are in awe of him.

  • Comment number 81.

    76#- Thank god for you sir, the only honest scotsman on this blog

  • Comment number 82.

    handofjohnson... I do not rate Scotland at all and a decent side would have put England away with ease.
    But many of the mistakes made by England which were in greater numbers than Scotland were not unforced.
    There is something to work on for England, but lets face it they are really not that flash.

  • Comment number 83.

    porridge- not saying we are- think a couple af half decent results and as a whole have got carried away. unfortunately we have better players then were out there sunday, but they won't get a chance as MJ has his team set.

    the six nations and NH rugby as a whole have been of a really low standard, the irish are very much at the end of an era, wales have shown they have gone backwards across the last 18 months and the french are in chaos, thus resulting in the italians looking like world beaters, which they really aren't.

    what i can't abide is reading the comments by scots saying how great you played sunday....when you didin't. there was a lot of effort and enthusiasum, but very little in terms of ability. i actually live in scotland and watched the scots v wales game with a few pals and i was appauled at the lack of, well anything, i said straight after that game that no doubt you will come to england with 'braveheart' like passion and all will be forgotten and forgiven..........and unfortunately for scots rugby, i was right

  • Comment number 84.

    Sorry but don't actually think that many Scots fans think they played brilliantly. What the majority of fans are saying is that it was an improvement.
    Scotland are a limited team both on the field and off. In my opinion they made England look very average. Many English fans are putting the closeness of the result down to England having a bad day. Yet these were probably the same fans who felt England had the beating of the AB's last Autumn.
    Not many English fans accepted that NZ were guilty of numerious UNFORCED errors that kept England in the game.
    Scotland are not a good side, but sometimes as we have seen in the past they can make it very difficult. England do not have a midfield and their pack is very easily dismantled at the breakdown.
    Scotland only really win on the odd occasion against England... that occasion might actually be later this year in Auckland.

  • Comment number 85.

    now i'm a realist- but please be sensible!!

    you do realise that scotland are about 90% certain to come away from the lowest quality six nations in recent history without a victory?! england aren't as good as the hype, but you have no chance in auckland me old china.

    and we didn't deserve to be anywhere near NZ in the autumn, but let's not forget that they had stopped taking penalties at the posts after 15 mins against you, as there was no point!

    the game on sunday was the biggest of the year for scotland, errors unforced or not are irrelevant it just wasn't a game england were 'up for', it was almost a typical sunday afternoon lethargic training session, that they thought would be won by turning up.

    the fact is england will probs win the grand slam, which i couldn't give a monkey's about as i's much rather win the world cup. we aren't as good as we think, but scotland are as bad asthey were before the game on sunday, i wouldn't have a single scots player i the england side

  • Comment number 86.

    #83 I echo porridge

    also many of us think the ref was poor for both sides but many (I presume English) quote the Deacon yellow earlier in the 6N but the difference was they were warned before he was yellowed. Technically the ref wasn't wrong, I would argue that without the warning or even a previous infringement that was penalised in the red zone it was very harsh. I think that is being fair! Most commentators of various nations agree.

  • Comment number 87.

    #85 who is being one-eyed now!!

  • Comment number 88.

    Just love the old chestnut that England were not up for it. England will not win the WC in New Zealand and there is still a strong possibility they might not make it out of their group.

  • Comment number 89.

    John wrote - "I love the Six Nations."

    If you love it that much you will help to get rid of Gordon McKie and Eamonn Heggarty because with those 2 in charge of the SRU we won't be in it for much longer.

  • Comment number 90.

    We won't win it, i agree, and how am i being one-eyed, i'm the only one who is being at least half objective.

    to say we won't get out of our group is ridiculous! what form book are we basing this on?? 2 victories against australia (home and away) and about to win a grand slam? come on boys take the tartan spectacles off!!! the bookies will have a field day with you!!

    england aren't as 'up for it' as scotland as, we aren't against any of our celtic brothers, we don't have the weight of history around our necks........or braveheart

  • Comment number 91.

    To misquote Sean Lineen from his book "Behind the Thistle" - That team and that performance wasn't because of the system - it was despite it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Not need to peeyerpants johnson. England did beat Australia twice... but both Argentian and Scotland are more than capable of upsetting England on neutral soil.
    If you are unable or willing to accept that it's a possibility then it's only going to be more embarrassing for you it it does happen. Also remember the amount of times that England have failed to win the GS becuase of complacency. Think Ireland might just spoil your little flag waving session this weekend.

  • Comment number 93.

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

  • Comment number 94.

    #90 interesting how you pick up on the one-eyed dig but ignored the factual part of what I said mmmm - maybe evidence there of "one-eyed" at least I tried to be fair.

    As far as braveheart ......possibly but not just history more about how the bbc report unbiasedly ho ho. You would think England were the only team who were any good. When (not so long ago) England regularly finished 4 in the 6N there was very little about how good others were. It was about how the standards over all was poor and the Ref was awful but yet they were still 90% of all discussion and debate on screen!!

  • Comment number 95.

    Johnson... england have not won a GS in years yet you don't care about it. Who on earth are you trying to kid?
    It's amazing just how decent English fans were when they were not competing for Six Nations glory... the minute they are in a strong position all the stereo typical English smugness comes flooding back.

  • Comment number 96.

    convertedfootballer- as you said the ref was 'technically' correct- he was correct- he had nothing to do with the outcome- scots players were chatting away all game and that had part to do with sin bin as they had been warned.

    after 2003 (when england won the world cup) we lost half a team and this took time to rebuild- we still managed to get to the final in 2007- i personally place more emphasis on the WC than 6N's as this is (obvi) a yearly tournament consisting of NH teams against THE WORLD every 4.

    during the period from 2003-7 england were building a new team and UNFORTUNATELY were stuck with Andy Pandy as coach. during this period ireland had a purple patch where a generation of talented players came through together, and wales made signifficant improvements- scotland did not, have not, will not

    however the status quo has now returned and looking at the players coming through you guys can expect to see us sitting in the number 1 slot every february for many years to come. maybe just maybe in 28 years you can come to twickers and have another 'right good go' and revel in the glory that is LOSING........smug enough

  • Comment number 97.

    #96 again you argue about stuff I haven't disagreed with but ignore the main point's. Here I'll list them and try again.
    1 Deacon -England were warned, Scotland weren't and first penalized offense in the red-zone. I'll say again not technically wrong by the ref but please acknowledge harsh (didn't say it changed the outcome!)
    2 BBC or as we call it the English Broadcasting Corp. Being more to do with the Braveheart attitude (don't even get me started on Thatchers contribution to the attitude). Open both eyes and read what I posted in #94.

  • Comment number 98.

    ok 1- Scotland had been interfering at the breakdown all day, slowing ball down, chatting to the ref, lost count of how many times the ref had to tell your players to go away- this all culminated with the offence 'in the red zone'- the straw that broke the french refs back (and then pulled his calf).

    2- this is a very dated and insular view- thatchers not been around for a while! i (unfortunately) lived in wales for a time and was forced to watch programmes such as 'scrum V' which to be honest was 'prejudice' at best!! the regional variations of the BBC seem to have put an end to this pereceived biased view point (in most cases). people slate brian moore's commentary but i whole haertedly believe he is one of few genuinely objective commentators- especially compared to eddie butler and jonathan davies- ultimately england has a signifficantly larger population, economy and infrastrucure and that is always going to demand more focus and attenrtion-it's just life

  • Comment number 99.

    I suppose we should be grateful that it took 94 posts before the Anglo-centric BBC came stumbling out. Have a look on the rugby page and you will see 2 articles on Wales, 1 on England and 1 on Scotland. Compare that to the demographics who visits the site and you would say that England are probably under-represented. Good grief !
    You can criticise HofJ for many things (he’s a miserable s*d in my opinion) but he is certainly not a 1 eyed England supporter (in fact quite the opposite).
    On the yellow card, if you commit that offense 2 metres from the line then chances are you will go to the bin, whoever the ref.
    On the game – well I suppose it was better than last years (which was like watching 2 bald men fighting over a wig.) Scotland have improved (wins against Argentina and SA are testament to this). You have some international quality players to build a team round, but unfortunately not enough of them to compete regularly.

  • Comment number 100.

    If Mossie had kicked the last penalty of the game and not Wilkinson, we would have had a draw and his covering tackle would have gone down as one of the great moments of the Championship. It will live long in the memory.

    One other comment. How on earth did they get a safety licence for the upper tier? I dread to think of the outcome if a panicking crowd had to evacuate.


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