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What now for Scotland after World Cup exit?

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John Beattie | 17:25 UK time, Sunday, 2 October 2011

I hope this World Cup gives Scottish rugby the kick up the **** it needs.

It was Ireland's failure in the Aussie World Cup that paved the way for their current success. They said "never again", and so should Scotland.

I got up during the night with that terrible cramping feeling in my stomach. For all I care you could have called me Johnsky Beattievsky as I was supporting Georgia.

After a cup of tea, and early in the second half, it dawned on me, and every other Scottish rugby fan watching, that Scotland were on their way home from New Zealand.

Only you and I know how that felt.

And that means you have to analyse and ask questions as to why this has happened so early in the competition for the first time ever. Oh there have been some squeaks, but this time we didn't make the quarter finals.

So, do we have the right coaches, players and set-up?

Scotland lost games to Argentina and England in the World Cup pool stage

Where do Scotland go from their disappointing World Cup exit?

Let's start at the last point. It is my sincere belief that Scotland is a tier one rugby playing country by way of status and membership of the Six Nations and I believe that competition gives us an advantage over the likes of Georgia.

Our playing numbers and national "buy in" and now our performances have all contributed to the fact that we are ninth in the IRB world rankings and so don't deserve to be in the last eight.

It was interesting that Sean Fitzpatrick said on telly that Richie Dixon had no need to come back to Scotland and would, probably, rather finish off the coaching job he started in Georgia.

We have the same elite level, top down-funded set-up as Ireland and Wales, and the southern hemisphere nations. But where we have 38,000 registered players the Irish have 153,000 and the Welsh 51,000.

We have to make sure that our base level of playing numbers doesn't start to make us a second class nation. We have to fight for our right to be in the Six Nations. This World Cup will have diminished our influence.

In other words, our structure probably doesn't have the inherent strength needed.

The second thing to discuss is player pool. Do we have a strong enough group of players?

It's hard because I know many of them, but when you fail you have to accept responsibility.

I think we have some good players - the Lamonts, Max Evans, Hines at his peak, Richie Gray in the future and perhaps a couple of others might force their way into the fifteens of other World Cup teams.

But we are weak in key areas. Our scrummage won't dominate another world class team.

The number 10 jersey is key and although Ruaridh Jackson is coming of age he is inexperienced and Dan Parks, while brilliant on his day, does not have all the pieces to his game needed to dominate in modern rugby.

Our back row isn't the complete unit that, say, the Irish three of Ferris, O'Brien and Heaslip provide.

Our midfielders are one thing or another. We have great crash ball men who perhaps don't have the defensive skills, or smaller and skilled players without the power.

And lastly, to coaching. I heard a psychologist tell an audience on Friday that how someone performs is 30% natural and 70% environmental.

The environment and skills passed on by coaches probably, therefore, make up more than half of a team's asset value.

Andy Robinson has a contract until 2015 so perhaps that's not up for discussion but I think we have to examine what's happening.

The players love him. He could talk about rugby all day and night. He cares. He studies and he has knowledge, a fire burning inside him and that smiling face belies the truth - he's a scary and respected coach.

Robinson should stay.

But I think there are lessons to be learned about areas that he is in charge of too. In defence - other teams are more physical and destructive, and at breakdown - other teams are more choreographed. In the shape of the game, other teams look organised, and in attack - crucially, we are not breaking teams down.

Robinson and his coaches need to have a long, frank look at what has happened and evolve.

I hope we have an honest review of what happened in this World Cup.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think John your last 2 lines say it all , but I don't think it should be just the coaches but the entire SRU that should be looking. This should include how to get more players into the game and how to raise the standard of those already involved.
    Unfortunately it is not just Rugby in Scotland but many other sports in Scotland that the standards seem to be slipping.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog John. I know you have to be impartial but some players in that squad need to be exposed as just not good enough.

    If you look at the number of caps that the likes of Morrison,De Luca,Parks,Blair,Cusiter, Stokosch and Kellock have and then consider the number of good performances that they've actually produced then the ratio wont be favourable, and whilst Chris Paterson is a national hero his best performances are a long time since.

    We need to freshen up,even if this means that we lose the majority of our forthcoming games an injection of youth and dynamism will be much appreciated by the Scottish support who have had to watch turgid rugby for years in the hope that it keeps us in the top 8 of the IRB rankings and enables us to progress to the QF stages of RWCs.

    A team that plays attractive, aggressive and committed rugby and that learns from it's mistakes and matures as a unit can only be a good thing.

    Some might say that we don't have the players to do it, i disagree. Swap Kellock for Fraser Mckenzie and have a back row of Denton, Harley and Rennie. There you'd have some physicality and dynamic ball carrying (and it might inspire the killer Bs to get their collective finger out to try to regain their places).

    The backs are not so easy but players like Evans,Ansbro, the Lamonts and Nicky Walker are good players and with the quality service of Laidlaw and a fly-half that can direct (hopefully Jackson with Weir pushing him along) then surely Gregor Townsend can mould a back-line with a modicum of penetration?

    All is not lost, the young lads making their way at Edinburgh and Glasgow have proved a few times this season that they have something about them and Visser will be eligible soon too.

    By the way, was shocked to read that Scotland have a coach in charge of restarts! Every time we were due to receive a restart i was sure we were going to lose it.

  • Comment number 3.

    The SRU need to do some kind of marketing drive to get the youngsters interested for a start. There are no quick fixes to the problems with Scottish rugby so we have to look at the long term future. Both Wales and Ireland are starting to reep the benefits of having a decent academy system and Scotland are just not bringing through the skillful, talented players. it's not just about the coaches for Scotland, although god knows what Gregor Townsend is coaching the backs to do. There is penetration but no completionl. It's like a disappointing one night stand. Unless the SRU stand up and take responsibilty then we may well be a tier 2 team in four years time.

  • Comment number 4.

    We have to take the long view not knee jerk. Look at where scotland were, and how far the squad has come in the comparatively short time that Robinson has been in charge. Graham Henry was given another four years after the 2007 failure Robinson must be given support and time at least until 2015.

    Look at the shambles left by Mcg and Telfer after the race into pro rugby, where they tried to change things from the top down. Then Williams who was a disaster, and Hadden a nice man but not an international coach. Also for 10 years the union has been operating under the pressure of a huge debt, while trying to maintain two pro teams in a nation where rugby is a minority sport.

    This failure to qualify for the qtrs for the fist time is down to the poor seeding in 2008 which left us in a group which was more difficult to get out of than any previously encountered, so it should not cloud the view.

    I think the next 6 nations will see a considerable improvement, which is all we can expect from limited resources.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm very pleased this is being openly discussed and the SRU should be doing something similar behind closed doors so lessons are learned and changes are made.

    Q: Does the team need major surgery? A: In certain areas. Forwards set piece looks much better but the breakdown is still a troubling area. Backs are better but, as a team, we don't seem to carry sufficient threat to the opposition. And we don't seem to have the composure we need to close off tight games. This is a real weakness as we don't seem to score many tries so you need to make all the points you can get contribute to a win and not a narrow loss.

    All in all, I've actually been very proud in the way Scotland have played. We have certainly improved dramatically. However, results don't lie and - although it was a bit of a toss up if we made the quarter finals, we would certainly have not progressed any further than that.

    I'd love Scotland to be challenging and playing better. I just hope we don't revert to our normal state of destructive self-criticism and come up with some coherent plans to make us better in four years time.

  • Comment number 6.

    Robinson stays, Townsend goes. Scotland's lack of tries in this tournament is embarrassing. What does Gregor do in training with the backs? I think with a limited team but a smart game-plan we almost pulled off a sensational result on Saturday. Still, lets move on we need to look ahead and make some changes-starting with Townsend.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think everyone from the SRU to the coaches to the players themselves will either be looking at themselves, or being questioned to look at themselves. And rightly so, when a job isn't done properly/completed questions have to be answered and solutions have to be made.

    The Scotland team is not a bad team. I'd even go as far as to say for some players.. that's the best i've seen them play in a while (Ross Ford springs to mind). Lack of consistency, getting a lead and maintaining it, little errors all over the game, bad calls of judgement both on and off the park led to an early exit. Also, a key one - lack of tries. We lost this world cup when the team was announced for Argentina. Before the announcement of who had been selected most fans were confident of a scrappy close win, as soon as team had been said, heads went down and most fans I spoke to were now highly doubtful of a win.

    I agree with what you are saying in regards to the number 10 spot. However, Jackson is worthy of wearing that jersey. Yes, inexperienced, yet how do you become experienced? You have to play to get there, and I truly believe he will. To be honest, I think having watched him play at Glasgow regularly, to him being involved in 6 nations, to this world cup, that you can see the improvement and I think that will continue. (Also, I think that given the time and ability Duncan Weir has the potential too).

    So, we are out of the world cup. Gutted as a fan, gutted for all involved. The only way forward is to keep at it and do well in 6 nations. Keep on trying to push the youngsters through... both Edinburgh and Glasgow are developing this all the time..and there are some cracking kids out there who if they keep it up, will be playing for Scotland.

  • Comment number 8.

    JB , we got what we deserved in this world cup. Scotland were predictable, robotic, game management in the closing stages of the last 2 matches was woeful. We run from one side of the pitch to the other touchline, never to cut back the other way or attack short side. We were too eager to go for drop goals when we could have asked more questions of the defence.

    Parks forced a drop goal against Argentina when it clearly wasn't on, illegally or not. The up and under against England with 4 mins to go was daft. It was all or nothing when there was no need to go for broke, there were men outside, trust your skills. Ok they may have scored if they collected but chances were even at best and how many times in an internation rugby match do the team chasing the score manage to win the ball back in dying stages ?

    We need to provide some spark at 10 & 12, hopefully Jackson or Wier can provide it at 10 but unless I'm missing someone a quality 12 doesn't appear to be on the horizon.

  • Comment number 9.

    John - we can be creative and constructive in these blogs of yours but at the end of the day you are the one who has the leverage with the SRU being the ex-internationalist. So I suggest you tell us in your blog what exactly you have discussed and argued with the SRU. All of the stuff that appears in the blog is pretty consistent - independent of how you kick-off the blog - so you know all of the thoughts by now. No need to have a "ground hog day" blog.

  • Comment number 10.

    The truth is in the figures, more than three times as many registered players in Ireland,and remember the dominence of the Gaelic sports, as a working class kid growing up in the west, I was a rarity.....I wanted to play rugby.......and here in lies the problem, not enough kids playing....I rember a mr beattie taking time out to come down and spend some time with us. It needs to start in School.....but above all it has to get rid of its posh image...and reach out and attract kids from all areas......players....on sat, there were too many players good at one thing,but no allround players? And Townsend if he was in a job and they looked at his lack of "sales" perfomance whatever he would be gone.
    Am hurting bad

  • Comment number 11.

    Townsend needs to go. Good players don't necessarily make good coaches.
    The problem is we don't attack directly enough, there's too many lateral runs & we play the game between the 22's where we're not going to hurt anyone.
    There's a lack of ambition too. How often did we go for a drop goal instead of working through some more phases & going for dare I say it, a try - seems to be a swear word for the national side these days.
    Too much ball coughed upcheaply at the breakdown.
    Blair is either too quick off the mark - tap penalties, makes 20 metres, gets isolated, turned over as the forwards are 20 metres back down the pitch wondering what's happening or he takes an eternity to pass from a ruck.

    On the subject of playing numbers we need to get rugby back into all schools & more kids playing competitively to start building a player base that way.
    Private schools aren't the problem per se but the influence they have on the governance of the game is & that needs to be rooted out.
    It'd be interesting to see what kids from less priviliged backgrounds could achieve on a rugby pitch with exposure to the same level of training & coaching.

    The elite player development/academy programme here isn't working. Outwith international windows our best young players aren't getting game time & hence experience at the pro-teams & the Premiership clubs aren't playing them.
    England U20's are all playing in the premiership or championship. It's a massive gulf in exposure to high level rugby & that's what needs to be adressed if we're going to grow the game in this country.

    If we can produce pro-teams that actually win more than lose & they can keep the decent players there so that they can build success instead of letting them go ply their trade abroad then we might see the crowds growing. Success puts bums on seats

  • Comment number 12.

    John, thanks for starting this blog. The future of rugby in Scotland depends on how we move forward from here. The following is my point of departure for any criticisms in my post. Scotland's RWC tries stats: 87-21, 91-20, 95-20, 99-18, 03-11, 07-15, 11-4. Anyone still wondering what went wrong? This Scotland team - simply not good enough. I fully understand that the team and the coaches gave their all. Like all Scottish fans, I was hugely disappointed by the campaign. However, I simply believe that it was inevitable.

    I note from reading your blog and the responses that you feel that the coaches and players need to stand up and be counted. I also believe that the SRU management need to do the same, and I wonder if they have the courage to do so?

    In the late 1960's and very early 1970's the Australian Rugby Union were in dire straits. The team was failing and the administrators stood up and admitted that they simply didn't know what to do. Bravely (in my opinion) they approached the Welsh Rugby Union for help. Wales responded as one would for a friend in need. They advised on leagues and clubs and all structures of the game. They provided coaches, to coach coaches. You get the picture. Australia rebuilt and moved on to the force we see today.

    Now, here is my suggestion. The NZRFU and SARU have the two most effective rugby set ups in the world. Does the SRU have the courage to approach them and ask for help in a similar vein to that asked for by the Australians? Not only do we have to ask for that help, but we have to be prepared to act on it, and in these days of professionalism, pay for it, I guess. My experience (as given away by my user name) is based on South Africa's systems. Preschool (4 year old) game playing and handling skills, primary school inter school setups, up to and including Provincial/District setups ( and if the teachers won't co-operate, then club level), senior school interschool games, provincial coaching backup, and a Provincial level competition up to school leaving age (Craven Week in SA). Then club, province or district competition at age levels - U/19, U/21, but crucially including a "provincial championship". Then at top level, club competition, a "Currie Cup" competition and some kind of Super 15 competition. This already exists, in the Heineken League, so we can tap into that resource. All progress for players from the age of four and onwards would be geared to achieving representative honours and a professional career for the best of the best. In order for this to happen, we also have to be concentrating on Scottish kids. There is no point in hoping all this will happen if they see top slots being filled by expat Kiwis, Safricans, Stralians etc etc. We have seen it in football - the Scottish football game is dying because the leagues are full of second rate pros from elsewhere and Scots kids can't get a look in. The quid pro quo from this kind of "job reservation" for Scots kids is that they will have to be prepared to be trained to the level where they can put their bodies on the line for the team.

    I fully understand that there are many nuts and bolts that would need to be addressed in these ideas, but the first step would be to admit that we need help, the second, to ask for that help and the third to act on the advice with focus and dedication. I didn't just want to start burbling on with criticisms without at least trying to suggest a way forward. I don't mind if people don't agree with all I have said, but at least I like to think that I am trying.

    I am a proud Scot and want to see our rugby team go into these competitions with some hope of winning - not just the games against the "easy" teams, but taking it all the way. Let's get to a point where we can face the haka, and answer the challenge in the best way possible - by a shed load of points.

  • Comment number 13.

    Relying on the Borders and fee-paying schools for talent can only take Scottish rugby so far. Plenty of untapped talent in the state system outwith Edinburgh and the Borders. More community work is needed to be done by SRU and the pro-teams and be open to all - regardless of school or area. Glasgow Hawks and West of Scotland rugby clubs have made the effort to do this but the big guns at the top must get involved too. The smug complacency expressed thus far has clearly not worked. Glasgow Rocks basketball team have an outstanding community programme and it works with youngsters in the city taking up the game and the club getting decent crowds for BBL matches. Basketball is more of a minority sport (in terms of media coverage in Scotland) than rugby yet the Rocks are doing more than Glasgow Warriors to make their sport more available to youngsters in that city (from all areas not just the plush West End). It can be done but if rugby is to grow and be played by more, someone needs to get off their backside and fast.
    Otherwise, one can envisage the day when the second tier Six Nations are finally given a promotion incentive by the game's beaks and Scotland's season (after being dislodged by Georgia, involves competing against Russia, Romania, Portugal, et al.

  • Comment number 14.

    John can't believe anyone is suprised by what happened, it was and has been for years, staring anyone who cares about the game in the face. Everything below has been said before:

    1. Rugby in Scotland is still dominated by the old school tie mentality. Just look at the premier school competition. When was the last time a non public school won this competition? Let's make a genuine effort to get rugby by spending ome real money in promoting the game at state school/youth rugby level.

    2. Club rugby (real club rugby not what Scottish Rugby dress their pro teams up as) was ditched by Scottish Rugby for years in place of the two professional teams. Thus our pool for selection is seriously limited.

    3. Even the limited two team pool is now being depleted with the employment of foreign imports.

    4. Scottish Rugby needs to, but won't, take a serious look at the pro/semi pro set up and come up with something that will suit our playing/club profile. Perhaps a semi-pro set up with two leagues of ten semi-pro teams with no promotion or relegation for 2/3 years. This would allow the focus on player development.

    5. This would begin generating/developing rugby players who could think for themselves and not have to rely on team orders.

    6. This would also allow/encourage the clubs to focus on real player development without having to worry about any of their half decent players being taken away as soon as they show any promise.

    7. It would help re-invigorate the heart of Rugby in Scotland in areas like the Borders who have been cast aside by Scottish Rugby in the professional era.

    Only the ramblings of an old rugby supporter but we need to do something radical, soon or the slide will continue, (real) numbers playing (not Scotish Rugby propaganda) will continue to fall, the next world cup in four years will see the complete demise of Scottish Rugby on the world stage.

  • Comment number 15.

    No6 Is spot on. Robinson has made a big difference - we are competitive against any team ,bar NZ, but will not win the big games as we pose no threat and continually make crucial mistakes on the park,- restarts for one. He deserves the chance to take us to the next World Cup, but we need a shorter term goal of ranking 8 or better to ensure favourable draw. Townsend was inherited from Hadden regime - we don't threaten now and we didn't then. We need a decent attack coach and no matter the cost it will be worth it, as otherwise fans will stop coming to Murrayfield if they expect no tries - We need to freshen up both coaching teams and players , as some great servants such as Hines will not be around in 4 years time. Huge amount to work on and Robinson is the man to lead Scotland forward.

  • Comment number 16.

    Just reading Reiver7's points. John, do you think a scrapping of the pro-teams and going back to the clubs is a viable option bearing in mind what Reiver7 has posted?

  • Comment number 17.

    Glasgow has a predominately Scottish side with a handful of foreign players.. a good few youngsters are coming through. I think there needs to be more development for getting more youngsters into the game

  • Comment number 18.

    Several posters have pointed the finger at Townsend and surely there is something in this. It would be interesting to know JB's thoughts - he is uncharacteristically coy on this.

    We have performed very well in many respects, especially the forwards, in the last two games but the failing is there for all to see. We have backs that are combining to be less than the sum of their parts and something has to be done before Tim Visser comes along and papers over the cracks.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well John, I wasn't howling as much as last weekend. At the end of the day we were beaten by a clinical team that doesn't know how to lose. I think Al Kellock's interview summed it up. He was one sentence away from bursting into tears. I don't think this was because of the defeat or the impending ellimination, I think it was because he just didn't know what else they could have done to win. I can't be upset at that. I've played in matches myself where you just don't know what more you could have done, they are the most disappointing but the most revealing about your own level.

    First of all, the national squad shouldn't be reintroduced into the pro-teams straight away. By all accounts the pro teams have shown a hell of a lot of promise without the internationals. Let them grow together as a young bunch and then feed in the experience of this disappointment to them gradually. Hopefully these lads can instill enough steel into these young lads that it never has to happen to them.

    We've got lads like Fraser Mackenzie playing in the Guinness Premiership, Mark Bennet (though he has ruptured his cruciate after being selected to play against Toulon) at Clermont learning his trade, Rob Harley bursting every gut around the park. We need to get some fearlessness into the team and blending some of the guys that are hurting at the moment with them as 'ghost of christmas past' to serve as warnings not to let this happen again. Guys like Gray, Rennie, Lamont, Ansbro, Evans, Jacobsen.

    Secondly we need to get an attack coach in on an 'advisory role'. I'm not going to knock Townsend, Chalmers etc but Townsend certainly was an off the cuff mercurial player not a structured drag the team one way, then the next then hit the gap kind of guy. Eddie Jones did it for the Boks, someone who can come in for 6 months, 12 months, 18 months whatever to train our coaches and players.

    Then we need some serious collective national sports psychology. No more glorious defeats.

    Anyway - next weekend my club are back playing our 'don't know how we could have done anymore team'. Been 2 years since last game their quote was 'nice blokes wish they could play rugby better'. Time to shove that back down their throats

  • Comment number 20.

    I cannot see how anyone can defend Robinson. Number 15 says we are competitive against any nation but the All Blacks, great, we can lose within a fine margin to anyone half decent. His tactics against Argentina were appalling, I said on the last blog that we should've been playing England with 14 points, only playing to get France rather than NZ in the QF's.

    If the SRU are so insistent on giving him one last shot after this disgraceful WC then how about this:
    If Scotland do not finish at least 4th in the Six Nations (above Italy in 5th is still the wooden spoon in my book) Robinson is gone. Maybe give one of the Hastings a phone, they knew what the green bit behind the posts was.

  • Comment number 21.

    John, you compare the numbers of registered players in Ireland, Wales and Scotland, but so often we don't have 15 rugby players on the pitch, because some players are not instinctively doing the right things, being alert even when the ball isn't in play. Getting caught sleeping at kick-offs is unforgiveable, and when we do try to move the ball along the line, why are there forwards in the line taking the ball, slowing down the attack?

    Scotland used to play best when the play was loose and a natural flair took over. On Saturday we seemed to panic when we got near the try line, and we never looked like creating a try.

    It might be worthwhile looking at NZRU for a game structure, but for a model for the National Team, we need look no further than Ireland and Wales who at this RWC have shown how to play a dynamic, high tempo game with players who are physically well prepared and well coached, but who start by being natural rugby players.

    Having said all that, 10 out of 10 for effort on Saturday, they did give everything they had, and I was gutted for them that they got no reward, but this is International Rugby and you get no prizes for effort, only for winning. We have to learn how to win!

  • Comment number 22.

    The interesting point here is that if you look at the Irish team, they are still very dependent upon a couple of guys who are coming to the back end of their careers. If you look at the Irish results prior to the RWC they were shockingly poor, but then players like BOD were rested and the second string is quite limited as seen at Murrayfield a couple of months ago.

    What they have is finishers who will take their chances and we are probably only a couple of finishers away from making the difference too. Visser will be such a beast and Nicky Walker would have made a big difference because he takes his chances and he's always looking to score - Joe Ansbro will also be very good once he's given playing time at London Irish. NDL is a good player but he doesn't believe in himself and worries more about being in the right place that taking the right chances - and hangover of the old system I fear.

    I whole-heartedly agree about the SRU's history. As someone who has watched an awful lot of developmental rugby in recent years I can say that there is no shortage of talent or willingness, just a lack of vision and drive from the top table. That said, both Edinburgh and Glasgow are beginning to give younger Scots lads a chance and we will see results (as per this weekend's games).

    Although clearly there are changes needed, I'm not a believer in major surgery because the patient may die before he gets off the table. The next steps need care and attention, but I think there is a growing will to make change and the rugby loving public needs to get out and support it from the touchline, not bitch about it from their armchairs.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have flagged up our problems at least twice on your blog but here we go again. Our player pool is far too small, only two regions, lack of school rugby based on public schools, our union is skint, other nations have embraced professional rugby whilst Scotland has stood still, our national junior sides have been getting whalloped game after game, lack of basic skills (now starting to improve under Robinson) and more importantly a lack of a good rugby brain in the squad e.g. taking on physical sides at forward instead of running them off the park, kicking away possession, over use of the miss pass, going left when we should have gone right, a failure to score tries, debacles like last years Wales game (We've got 13 men, the other team are on the rampage, lets kick them possession because we might win!). Some might say that we don't get our fair share of luck e.g. Argentina being a mile offside at the drop goal, but you make your own luck and at that point of the game we should have been 20 points up.

    Things are not going to get any better for a long time. Parks had a stinker this world cup and he won't be around forever. Paterson will be gone soon. That leaves us with Jackson at stand off and no sign of a back up. Ewan Murray is our only international class front row. I foresee real problems in the next few years unless we can find some kilted kiwis.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi John

    I think the problem is more fundamental. Because of our town based or school based club sides they do not have the support to become professional themselves so we set up some new professional clubs with neither tradition nor following. Borders failed - rugby support down here (in the past the best in the country) is totally club based - Edinburgh and Glasgow despite what the SRU say are also a drain or our slender funds.

    The SRU will not like it but we cannot allow club rugby to be treated the way it is. It is virtually ignored by the media in preference to the professional sides but this is where our future players start, club rugby and school rugby. How about this for a scenario - one professional club (THE Scottish professional team) well funded, based in Edinburgh but playing in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Borders (Melrose, Hawick or Galashiels). Perhaps, then, the SRU might have some cash to invest in London Scottish in order to attract the Anglos. More support given to Club rugby - how about BBC for a start offering a Scottish Club Rugby part on the web. Why can't they at least mention rugby on those awful football programmes, why are we so totally football orientated? Any other suggestions?

  • Comment number 25.

    John… Bringing young players through !

    Up until last year, our age-grade teams have performed well on the international stage despite gross underfunding and patchy coaching & direction, partly from ex-internationals in need of a job.

    I recall at U-18 level watching the recently assembled Scotland squad… facing a selection from the 4 (four) english regional-international squads warming up at Murrayfield, each with their own dedicated permanent management team. Scotland performed admirably, but without the resources & preparation-time enjoyed by their counterparts, they couldn’t match the fluency of the english team. Later that season, our U-18s recorded their first win in 33 years over a French team, in Paris.

    That Scotland squad went on to record 3 wins out of 5 .. in the six-nations AND the U-20 world cup campaign in Japan, two years later. Richie Gray came from that squad, that included a number of other talented potential future internationals…WHERE ARE THEY NOW … and when will Scotland learn to take full advantage of their scarce resources?

    Frustrated !

  • Comment number 26.

    Bad luck Scotland. The team played well and I don't think that the players could have given any more. Crucially though, and even speaking as a naturally pessimistic Englishman, at no point during the game did I worry that Scotland would win. There was plenty of effort but the try-line was rarely threatened and Tom Croft was a couple of yards faster than Richie Gray when it came to the crunch.

    I agree with John that the way ahead is to expand the player base...which is, of course much easier said than done. The oft-quoted figure that England have 2.5 million adult players isn't correct. About 1.5 million of those "registered players" are schoolboys (and schoolgirls) leading to a vibrant Sunday morning rugby scene. Plenty of kids lose interest or, more commonly, suddenly find that the opposite sex is more interesting than rugby, but it does create an enormous base of potential from which good players can emerge.

    Based on relative size, Scotland should be able to get about 250,000 players of all age-groups.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm sorry John but I must disagree. A number have coaches have been through yet Scotland still play the same kicking game. How many times against England were Scotland within a few metres of the try-line, yet passed it back to Parks to drop goal? No ambition to cross the line. Scotland were the better team but simply cannot score tries. They need to stop relying on their kickers and start running with the ball.

    When the forwards had the ball and were putting England under pressure the Scots were dominant! Yet they took the easy 3 points rather than risking none for the chance of 7 points. Scoring a try in the first half would have shook England and given Scotland the win.

    I'm sorry but the players Scotland has are simply not being utilised and I can understand some of their frustrations at not being able to run with ball in hand.

  • Comment number 28.

    philmus - I can't help feel that you need to get onto the terraces and watch a few more games rather than making such bland statements. There are some very good 10s coming through, but the way has been blocked by weaker though management popular players like Godman. Glasgow has a couple of good 10 options and in Greg Laidlaw at Edinburgh, the conversion from 9 to 10 has produced a serious contender.

    Less of the dreaded Scots doom please and more realism would be helpful at this time

  • Comment number 29.

    Another balanced blog however if we are to be honest in a brutal way about this world cup performance then lets get started. Firstly it is my belief that we are not that far away from sitting at the head table again without feeling guilty about being there. We need to look at the coaches who are helping Robinson and ensure we give Andy the best opportunity to develop a side in the next four years of his tenure. Mr Townsend needs to be looked at as attacking coach as we have consistantly failed to score trys for the past few years now and that is what is costing us wins. Secondly Scotland are getting better however we do need to look at injecting fresh young tallent into our set up. Wales look to be in great shap with the emergance of players like North, Warburton, Williams and Priestland. The question then becomes why have Scotland not got tallents like this coming through. More questions than answers the now but i hope we can be in good form for the six nations.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have to agree with many posts on here that, the reason we are on the plane home is due to our lack of tries, not rocket science i know. Pur forwards have improved dramatically under Robinson, and i believe he is regarded as one of the best forwards coaches in the world, well thats what Phil Vickery said on ITV, dont get me started on that shower...

    I digress, its the backs that seem to be the issue. We have 3 aruably world class scrumhalves, although they need to sort out their service. 10 in the future i hope its Weir as he has all the attributes, having watched him for Hawks, Glasgow and the U20s in the summer. Jackson is a 10 who cant barely kick the ball from hand, but he is over 6 feet has a good understanding of the game, get him in at 12 as he can actually pass the ball and get the backs moving past the 12 channel. 13 Max Evans should plat there as he is our most creative and most likely to beat the first defender, which would leave the likes of The lamonts, Danielli, Ansbro and Walker to fight it out for the back 3. IF we could get a world class Backs coach to properly teach these guys, angles of runnings, when to off load, SOME MOVES... then we are not far away from being a pretty good TIER 1 nation. As much as i liked Townsends unpredictability in a Blue Jersey, he was an enigma and saw the game on the pitch and played off the cuff half the time, but he cant do that with coaching, he has no pedigree as a coach and am afraid should go, learn the ropes elsewhere, if thats what he wants to do.

  • Comment number 31.

    1. I think every member of the team tried their hardest and I certainly wouldn’t question their work ethic or desire to win.

    2. But in spite of 1, they could (and should) have done better. And people are less willing to accept failure from professionals.

    3. The team clearly has the potential to score tries. But they aren’t. Is this because the team is incapable of implementing their attacking plan (a failure of ball handling, decision making etc by individual players) or because the attacking plan is just plain poor in the first place (a poor attacking coach – Townsend). To me, it looks like a bit of both. They don’t seem to be able to work together as a team to craft an opening through running lines and support play – which would seem to suggest a failure in coaching. But there have also been numerous occasions when overlaps have been squandered because players have failed to fix their defender before passing (or just run straight into a defender without passing at all) – which seems to suggest a failure of individual skills and decision making.

    4. A number of people (including JB) have said that AR has achieved a lot so far – but this is not visible to outsiders. All we can see is a continuance of the problems we had before he arrived (an inability to score tries) and some quite poor selection/substitution decisions (which anecdotal evidence seems to suggest is not new for him). I would, therefore, welcome some examples of what he has achieved during his tenure – so that us outsiders can see and understand why the insiders are quick to defend him.

    5. Many of the post on here are not critical merely for the sake of being destructive. The majority appear to be from people who want Scotland to succeed. Nothing is being said here that isn’t also being said in pub and clubs up and down the country.

    6. This was not glorious failure. That occurs when a side with few or no decent players collectively raises their game and comes close to achieving greatness by being more than the sum of their parts. This was a good side that failed to deliver on their potential, and therefore, just disappointing failure. No doom or gloom (or no more so than usual anyway) just a hope that some of the failings can be addressed in the near future …

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    I think that Scotland's eventual failure was predictable. Although there are a number of good players for several years now we have failed at the final hurdle. I do think that AR is the right man for the job and to lose him would be a backward step. The position of attack coach is much harder to defend. A lack of ability in scoring tries is the most obvious and as much as I have defended Dan Parks over the years I can never understand why, when the referee has signalled a penalty at the opposition try line, he always goes for the drop goal. Surely it is worth an attempt at breaking the opposition line.

    A more pertinent point has been raised about player numbers and getting youngsters with the ability and drive into playing the game. The lack of children playing rugby at school is a real problem and it is difficult to persuade them to play when there are so many other leisure options for them.

    Having grown up in the west but now living in the east I have seen first hand the way that many non-public school children are dismissed and become disillusioned with the game. My eldest son played for a pathways teams up until S3. After this point the private schools join in. From the list of selected players to go forward and play in age-grade rugby in the east it is a who's-who of private schools.

    Are we to believe that because youngsters don't attend the right school that they suddenly lose the ability to play rugby. I think that the SRU needs to be more active in getting more children to play rugby and recognise real potential at an early stage, nurture that talent, and get rid of the appearance that it is a middle/upper class sport.

  • Comment number 34.

    It is interesting where your shine the spotlight, but crucially where you do not. On balance Scotland have done quite well in the context of the current status quo. Played some good rugby with a good coach. Done as good as could be expected.

    The real root of the issue, if as per your assertion that Scotland is tier one is the overall structure of the game. There are too few players and too few youngsters coming into the game, and past and recent history has shown the overall management and vision of Scottish Rugby to be at best, poor. This dictates how well the national team eventually performs. Unless this is grasped then in the circumstances the 'team did good'.

    Why no analysis of this?

  • Comment number 35.

    I felt, when I posted my opinion on here that it was too radical as a potential solution for Scotland's rugby woes. I find it telling that no one has questioned it or even commented on it. Instead, I see the same bland Scottish inward looking bs that we hear time and again after yet another failed campaign, be it RWC or 6 Nations. The solutions as always - sack the coach, bring through young players (but interestingly never how to do this), our player base is too wee...blah blah blah. With all due respect, these are dull grey suggestions for a dull grey union, killing a wonderful game. I think we really need to start thinking outside the box, people. JMHO.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think it's frustrating that it's under Robinson, who has undoubtably taken Scotland forward, that they fail to get to the quarter finals for the first time. I don't think it's a fair reflection on him, the work he's put in or the players. For me this certainly isn't the worst Scotland team to go to a world cup. It's also good to rememebr that it's only 2 late tries that saw Scotland go out, in a tough group, and without them they would have topped the group.

    True work still needs to be done but I think there is a core group of young players in Scotland to take it forward. However with only 2 top level club teams you're always going to struggle for strength in depth. Take fly half for example say the fly half at Glasgow goes off the boil your only other choice is the one at Edinburgh or a guy who doesn't start for his club. With Wales, Ireland and England you've got much fuller genuine competition for the places.

  • Comment number 37.

    Firstly, as a number of posters have mentioned - we don't have enough sports in schools, across the board. Whether this means that local clubs etc need to get involved with the schools or however, this is the root cause of the decline in Scottish sport in general.
    Secondly, We have 2 professional Scottish teams, so maybe 44 Scottish professional players who will get a game any given week. Ireland and Wales 88, England 264, France 308. OK I know this is not exactly right, but you get the picture. Where do the up and coming players go in Scotland? Promotion to the first team is basically dead mans shoes, with only 2 players in competition for the national team.

    Why are Scotland not looking to send the up and coming players off the the Premiership/France/SA?Aus/NZ, anywhere where they will get exposed to a higher level of competition at an earlier age? If we get 80 -100 players playing at a reasonable standard each week, it can only improve our chances.

    Or am I being hopelessly naive?

  • Comment number 38.

    I said on a previous blog that I think Scotland is the only nation that has not improved in the last twenty years, that is to say, that I think the Scotland side of 1991 would beat the Scotland side of 2011. I don't think that is true of any other nation at this World Cup. That clarifies Robinson's level of culpability for the current state of affairs.

    Responsibility lies squarely with the SRU and its uniquely inept transition from amateur to professional rugby. I'm not convinced they're still not struggling with it. Having said that, there have been so many reviews, personnel changes and calls for reform from previous international players, if there was an easy answer, it should have been found by now.

    Accepting then that if Scotland is to improve as a force on the international stage it will require a great deal of hard work and effort on the part of everyone connected to the game at all levels in Scotland, one has to question whether the collective will is there. Personally, I doubt it. I just don't think that it matters to enough people.

    If Scotland can't get sufficiently enthusiastic about the fortunes of its football team to make a difference, what chance does the rugby team have? It's all very well claiming our membership of the 6N guarantees us tier one nation status, but it doesn't mean we'll perform like one.

  • Comment number 39.

    How do we entice youngsters to play rugby for their country when they watch such lamentable efforts that we witnessed in New Zealand? No outstanding players to emulate, no exciting attacking play to copy, and now, no team to follow!
    I would like to see the stats regarding Robinson's record as coach compared to the previous three. I genuinely don't know the answer, but I reckon he is not getting more wins than his forerunners.
    I'm afraid that the rugby side is beginning to mirror the Scottish soccer team-on a downward spiral that will be impossible to climb out of. There is no answer as someone would have come up with it 10 years or more ago when the writing became legible on the wall.
    I just don't know why this current squad can't score tries-if they could, they might still be in the World Cup and in with a chance against France. Hey-ho.

  • Comment number 40.


    I agree that rugby appears to be a bit too posh in Scotland and that could be deterring children. We're supposed to have the same problem in England, but barring a few uber-posh enclaves, the game is surprisingly broad-based. I live in the South-West, which may colour my viewpoint, but the game here has always had its roots in working class sport and farming!

    At my local club their is a very broad sweep of kids ranging from those who attend one of the most expensive public schools in the country right through to kids off the local estate! From my observation it works pretty well. My son's team can field 22 players of differing abilities and, barring cup games, everyone gets a turn playing...even if it costs the game. The same group of kids turn out every Sunday in the season and practice on Wednesday evenings throughout the year.

    Coaches in the club have regular sessions with local schools, many of which are not "rugby-playing", and they recruit a large number of kids who need the chance to be good at something. After all, the big lad who's too slow for football, can make a name for himself as a good scrummagger and there are all sorts of slots in a rugby team for different physiques and athletic ability. So much for the social cohesion story!

    My concern is that, despite having a big youth playing base, when it comes to elite squad selections, it's not that only public schoolboys get picked . It's that the selection net is restricted to just a handful of "good" schools where there are established links and networks. So with 1.5m children playing, the cohort that is in contention is tiny by comparison to what would, at first glance appear to be on offer.

    Getting the youth playing base together is one thing. Getting selectors to travel beyond their normal haunts is another

  • Comment number 41.

    As an Englishman looking north of the border I see a growing nationalism and pride in all things Scottish, which seems at odds to the way Scottish sport is going .. it's not just Rugby, but Football too, when I was growing up, Scotland were on a par with England in both, with victories going eitherway.

    The Scottish RFU need to get into the schools, pay for coaches to teach the game at the basic level, to build it up from the base.

    I would be interested to know why sport in Scotland seems to have nose dived ? It has to be more than funding ... do Wales and Ireland, or Argentina have better funding than Scotland ? How have they managed their grassroots better than Scotland have ?

  • Comment number 42.

    Scotland only need a 10 that can play/read what is in front of them. The rest of the players aren't that below par from the nations that have gone into the last 8 of the RWC.
    It is basic attributes for a 10 but Scotland seem to have in Parks, Jackson (even Patterson when tested at 10) players who systematically play like robots, a call is given and they stick to it...even if the right thing to do is over call it and run at the line.
    I don't think that Jackson or Parks once looked at the defence in front of them on Saturdays game. This makes defences drift and ultimately get smashed or very easy at International level to cover defend unless you have an out of ordinary player in your backs division.
    These boys must be taught to look, decide and then act. Its easier said than done but most countries seem to be able to produce a 10 that can do this... I think Jackson could do it but maybe the lack of International games and probably people outside him making him feel uncomfortable if he does not pass the ball. In rugby your 10 is master and commander and maybe for Scotland that is not the case.
    Wales came back strong, so did Ireland after poor RWC's. I think Scotland can do the same.

  • Comment number 43.

    4 tries in 4 matches says it all. Only 2 teams scored less. We need an Ashton 14 tries in 16 tests.

  • Comment number 44.

    As an English observer isn't the simple problem that at RWC level there are 8 spots and there ar 10 teams good enough to win those 8 spots - before throwing it all away (and the game against England was full of positives for Scotland as well as the Argentina game until the moments of madness) just think if you'd been in another group you might have finished 2nd - having England, Argentina and Scotland in one group was very tough.

    However if Scotland are going to persist with the Celtic League then could I make a suggestion that you have 4 non-CL sides and integrate with the English Championship (as ring fencing will be with us once Newcastle are relegated an Rugby Union doesn't exist North of the M62) and you could have the 3 North-East sides, 4 Scottish sides and 3 other teams e.g. a London side, a Midlands side and a North-West side.....

  • Comment number 45.

    As with all things Scottish, the focus was just too anti-England. While England focus on winning the group and progressing through the tournament. Scotland players say "there's no bigger game than England." Well there is, the knockout matches and the final.

  • Comment number 46.

    If you don't score tries then you don't win games. Someone has already posted the try counts from all the world cups and they speak for themselves. So do our try counts in the six nations. This is professional rugby - if your backs can't score tries then get a new backs coach. Don't set Andy Robinson a target of getting a certain position in the six nations. Set him a try count of 16 for the tournament! If we start scoring tries then we can start winning games.

    I agree with what Francois Pienaar said last week. Stand-offs are born they are not made. Neither Parks nor Jackson are born stand-offs. Which brings us to the point of how we find and nurture young talent in this country. We need help, someone has already posted the idea of asking South Africa or New Zealand RFUs for help in a root and branch re-organisation and I think that's the best idea I have seen in a long time.

  • Comment number 47.

    John, you talk sense as ever. But there is one factor you fail to mention that I believe is also a key contributory factor to our defeat here, on previous occasions and in other sports. And that is the expectation (or lack of it) of us as a collective people. New Zealanders do not stand for failure. The English public do not stand for failure. Even the Welsh have high expectations of their rugby players. The difference is that we Scots accept heroic failure and brave defeat as an acceptable alternative to winning. We must not accept this any longer. This group of Scottish players, this Scottish team, this Scottish coaching set up, this pool of nations were all perfectly good from which to progress to the quarter finals and beyond. Failure to do so is partly incumbent upon the players and coaches for all the reasons you outline above, but more than anything if they don't have the weight of a nation expecting, they will not have the FEAR to deliver at the highest level. This was singularly the most disappointing sporting result of my entire 35 years of existence and to be honest I wish I didn't care as much as I did. I am absolutely devastated, albeit I understand it is only a game.

  • Comment number 48.

    Ireland have 4 professional teams.
    Wales have 4 professional teams.

    Scotland have 2.

    Why is anyone surprised that they are not producing enough high-calibre players?

    Don't take the easy option and fire the blame all on the SRU. Everyone from Scotland replying to this blog needs to ask themselves, "when was the last time I was at a Glasgow or Edinburgh game?"

    If the SRU cannot get enough crowds in to support 2 teams - how on earth are they going to go to the 3 or 4 needed to build the nucleus of an international standard team?

    The points made regarding pro/semi-pro teams have great merit, and should be examined - but ultimately, top class players become top class players by playing against and learning from other top class players.

  • Comment number 49.

    To be honest the result was better than I expected, however I do feel that nobody in the next round will fear either Argentina or England after the poor showing of all the "top" teams in our group. Can't see either getting past the quarters.

    Have said it before but where does all the talent and vision go when these guys pull on an international jersey? It looks like we can only play by numbers and when a quick oportunity arises we are too busy trying to avoid personal responsibility and miss every chance. This must come down to coaching.

    I can still remember playing and being inspired by coaches and occiasional fear too, but the fear was of letting them down not of them as a person, cos that is poor man management. Perhaps we over coach and lose talent.

    Off now for yet another lie down in a dark room.........

  • Comment number 50.

    'We have the same elite level, top down-funded set-up as Ireland and Wales, and the southern hemisphere nations. But where we have 38,000 registered players the Irish have 153,000 and the Welsh 51,000.'

    You have answered your own question there. While we do have a professional set-up, we don't have enough players and that will always prevent us finding elite athletes who will evolve into international class players.

    Also, of the current squad a lot have come from outwith the SRU reaches. English or Southern Hemisphere born. While we are right to take advantage of these players, it would be an even poorer side that is drawn on only Scottish developed talent.

    Final point. Only 2 professional sides. I think this will continue to cause us problems. The best players move down south for more cash which will prevent Glasgow / Edinburgh competing in the Celtic league or Heineken Cup and generating enough income to be sustainable without SRU funding.

    With 2 sides we can also have only a limited pool of specialist positions (props, half backs, centres etc) that we have control over.

    While it would be difficult to justify spreading our thin resources to resurrect the Borders side I think only having 2 pro sides will make our problems worse over the next decade.

    With countries like Italy and Argentina having massive population bases and a growing interest in the sport, it is entirely possible these countries could overtake us substantially in the future and we will be left well outside the top 8.

  • Comment number 51.

    I overheard a coach at a youth rugby training session last week say, "Whatever drills the Scottish team are doing, we will not be doing them!". Whilst this was meant as a joke, it certainly underlines the feeling there is around the game. Where does Scotland want to be in terms of world rankings? Top 5, 10 or 20. Do we have the potential to be a top 5 team?....yes. Do we currently have the infrastructure to allow this type of development?.....No, not by a long, long way.

    Politics at all levels within the Scottish game is stifling development. Too much red tape, lack of game consistency between schools, clubs and regions. The lack of structured competition below U15 level is assisting in kids deciding to switch sports where structured competition is actively pursued. There is a lack of good coaches, teachers and DO's at youth and mini level. That last comment may seem a bit harsh as I know a lot of people give masses of their free time to the game and they should be commended, but the harm that bad coaching has on our sport is immense.

    Two recent incidents stick with me in terms of poor coaching and political attitude gone daft.... A Club Development Officer tried to justify to me at a youth game where he had 3 boys who physically stood out from the rest of his team. The game plan... "give it to the big boys and let them win". Zero focus on handling, tackling, passing, but the DO expressed that he was doing a great job with his 3 giants. "So, what about the rest of the squad?". Blank expression... The second is even worse... A headmaster at a public school ordered that no pupils from that school were to play club rugby. We had a boy who went to the school but wanted to play for the club only. The headmaster bullied and threatened his parents that it would impact his academic future if he didn't play for the school. The boy now no longer plays rugby because of this.

    Until we break down the political barriers and unite the game with the same development aims, goals etc, then Scottish senior rugby will continue to be a "nearly side".

  • Comment number 52.

    #48 - too true! I for one will be going to watch Edinburgh rugby play Leinster at the end of October. Whatever the perceived problems with Rugby, I'd much sooner pay £15 to go there on a Friday evening than watch a game in the Scottish Pub League.

    I agree entirely John, I think we do need to have an honest review. Let's learn from Footballs mistakes though; do it, learn from it and ACT on it!

  • Comment number 53.

    We lost because Robinson kept changing the team; there was 14 changes between one game and the next and min of 7 in another. He did the same thing with England and they went down the world rankings at a rate of knots!!!!! Good coach, not a manager. There's a big difference between being a manager and a coach. Playing favourites (powers at be Edinburgh Rugby Union) doesn't help either, "Ladder his tights" and his sister “Ladder other pair of tights” on the bench, “Couch the ball up”, and “Light weight” are the other two favourites. And if you can’t figure out whom I am talking about watch England and Argentina games again, you can't miss them. Thankfully the biggest favourite of all “Good God are you really a rugby player” wasn’t there in New Zealand or it would have been real fun and games.

    The only time Scotland does well is when the team is unchanged from week to week, month to month, year to year. Only problem with that is Scotland have 2/3/4/5 great years and the total reverse the other 5/6/7/8/9/10 years.

    On the subject of Murray either play or don’t, you can pick and choice your games, soon it’ll be "I can’t play Saturday’s because it’s to close to Sunday’s", you’re a professional rugby player, you’re paid to do a job.

    Attack coach – WE HAVE ONE!!!!!!!! Sorry never noticed any evidence of it. All I watched was crossing, handling errors, taking ball standing still, hospital passes, crab running and rabbits in headlights.

    How do we change this: Simple stop the tail waging the dog!!!!

  • Comment number 54.

    Scotland has a short-term problem (getting more out of our current players) and a long-term problem developing a structure that helps and encourages the development of more and better quality players in the future. And you could say, that a failure to address the short-term under performance has the potential to make the long-term problems harder to solve.

  • Comment number 55.

    #48 a week ago, with my Brother, crowds are poor because there is zero PR. If people don't know, people won't go. Let kids in for free. The kids will bring there parents....

  • Comment number 56.

    I think AR should def stay as he has done a great job with the players and the set up he has. The Scottish players must look at themselves and work out why they can get up for a game against England but not against Georgia or Romainia. I remember the good Scottish team we had in the 80s & 90s who were bloody ruthless no matter who they played (yourself, Finlay Caulder,John Jeffrey and Iain Paxton etc etc). It's always been a head problem with us. We will never be a top tier team because we think we don't belong up there. Most sports are played between the ears, run a marathon and you will know exactly what I am talking about. To end with i would say that the RWC has been a fair reflection of where we are at the moment in world rugby, but if we are not careful we are going to slip even further down the rankings

  • Comment number 57.

    Obviously there will be a review, but just as in other areas of life, knee-jerk reactions are ones we end up needing to repent of later. So, yes lets have a review - indeed where is the review of Scottish rugby whose publication keeps getting delayed - but if we are to make radical changes then lets at least have thought them through properly.

    Part of the difficulty in any kind of review of the game is getting beyond the antagonisms of the various vested interests in the sport. The noise from some of the presidents of Prem 1 clubs that the two pro teams are the problem - a view to which I do not subscribe - is growing. If the clubs and the union (and schools) worked together then we'd be able to see beyond an either or scenario's i.e either club rugby or two/three pro teams. Grow player numbers, work together, attract spectators, attract investors and we can have the best of both - or am I being naive?

    Part of the problem in growing the sport however is the prevailing culture toward sport in general in Scotland. It's not just rugby that is in trouble regarding participation or elite performance, many, many sports are. Part of the issue is down to the demise of a culture of volunteering (which may in part be down to modern working practices). Some clubs have the kids, but struggle to find the coaches. So for all the arm chair experts who've written on this blog, you have an opportunity to be part of the long term solution. Get yourself along to your local club, find the youth or mini's co-ordinator and offer your services. The SRU and our clubs cannot magic coaches etc., out of thin air, people need to get involved in a positive way.

    In the short term however, it's not the players and it's not the coaches's a mixture of the two. If you look at Scottish qualified players in the Rabobank Pro 12, the Aviva Premership, or the Top 14 (don't think we have anyone in Super 15) then there is not a "prolific" try scorer among them! The perception may be that Niki Walker scores plenty of tries for the Osprey's and then fails to bring that form to the international team (although I think we did miss him this time around), but Chris Patterson has a better try strike rate per game than Walker has! So the backs we're using are not scoring try's regularly and it's not all down to Dan or Jacko or as I was starting to think the systems we play, as week in week out they are playing with different systems and different creative players and still not scoring tries. Compare that to England and in Ashton and Tuilagi in particular they have two guys who week-in-week out are scoring tries in high level rugby.

    That said, you've got to question Townsend's record as an attack coach and Robinson's record as a selector. Perhaps the latter is a great coach, but his selections, particularly in his use of the bench does not impress me nor fill me with confidence. As has been suggested by others, perhaps we need to bring someone in to work with Townsend - perhaps even as a consultant. But perhaps we need to bring someone in - maybe even the same person - who is not intimidated by Robinson, that can help guide and influence selection, tactics, and the use of the bench. Perhaps there would be a danger of too many cooks spoiling the broth, but I think it should at least be considered. My suggestion would be to poach John Kirwan from Japan.

    My final thought is this, Ireland have clubs winning the celtic and Heineken cup, the Welsh pro teams are competitive in these competitions too, we are not. If we want to re-built the reputation of Scottish rugby and at international level turn around narrow defeats into well deserved victories then we need our two pro-teams doing well in the now Pro 12 and in the Heineken cup. That means we need to create a structure whereby we don't look to offload costs by letting the better players leave, thus breaking up promising squads, but at the same time bring through the young talent like Denton and Lee Jones or Hogg, Weir and Harley.

  • Comment number 58.


    I am sure that the numbers of registered players in Scotland will have an end impact for your National Team. Having fewer players to choose from would be expected to impact somewhere - unless of course, your fewer players were all world class - look at NZ!

    In that respect Eng (I am Eng by the way) and the other home nations have an advantage. For me, Scotland have definitely improved sinec Andy Robinson took the helm and IU think they had a cracking match against Eng and played really well through the tournament being very unlucking and maybe naive against Arg. Scotland have some good players, bucket loads of passion, commitment, motivation know how etc. They've shown it and I believe they aren''t far away from 'coming good' in terms of results. However, it is the players that must win the matches - coaches can only give them so much, knowledge will only get them so far, technical skills will only equip them - they have to 'learn how to win' - such a familiar phrase but so elusive when you are seeking that particular ingredient.

    'Belief' is what I think may be missing - lip service is one thing, delivery another!

    Changes I am sure will happen - but the players need to be honest with themselves - do they really believe they can win - for themselves and as a team and if so - they MUST translate this into victoties on the main stage by using all those other positives mentioned before.

  • Comment number 59.

    Brueacre @ 51

    "there's a lack of good coaches, teachers, and DO's at youth and mini's level" - agreed. What I'd add to this is that there's a lack of people willing to stand in the middle and officiate at games too. One of the big issues in coaching at youth and mini's level is getting some kind of consistency. I think the SRU have tried to address this with the systems they have put in place - e.g. all coaches are not required to have a minimum coaching "qualification," but at youth and mini's level clubs are crying out for ex-1st XV players to get involved and pass on their experience, or for able and knowledgeable parents to get involved, but with varying degrees of success.

    At the club with whom I'm involved we're fortunate in that we have what I would consider a good DO, and I think he'd take a different attitude to the one you encountered. That said, I do think these guys are expected to cover too many bases, and while they have PKI's and other such paperwork indicators to give to their superiors I do wonder about the supervision they are given, and what kind of CPD structures are in place or assessment of their coaching skills.

    Don't get me started on the Private school issue! My hope is that the Schools of Rugby initiative may help close the gap between private and state schools and is an initiative for which the SRU should be applauded. What we need is more of this kind of thinking in our game.

  • Comment number 60.

    Steggsy writes. It is amazing that England are still in the World Cup. All it is, at the moment papering over the cracks. Maybe a terrible shock is needed to bring everyone to their senses.I have never understood a) why Martin Johnson was appointed b) what his job is. I believe it all went wrong when Woodward was sacked. Why? The RFU Commitees I suppose. Did they not feel important enough?Was it all about him and not them? The guy's ideas were and still are light years ahead and instead we have Martin Johnson who appears to have no role other than looking fierce. Learn from cricket RFU. Plan ahead, get the correct people all working towards the same goal, focus on the national team and its success rather than maintaining your little bit of power. And sack Rob Andrew. What is he Developmant Officer? Look at the way out international game has developed since 2003. Frankly, it's embarrassing.

  • Comment number 61.

    For the person that asked about time spent in opponents 22 and points scored:

    Points: 137, Time in opponents 22: 1411 seconds

    Points per minute in opponents 22: 5.83

    Points: 90, Time in opponents 22: 2001 seconds

    Points per minute in opponents 22: 2.70

    Points: 73, Time in opponents 22: 2013 seconds

    Points per minute in opponents 22: 2.18

    Points: 48, Time in opponents 22: 996 seconds

    Points per minute in opponents 22: 2.89

    Points: 44, Time in opponents 22: 1381 seconds

    Points per minute in opponents 22: 1.91

    (data taken from the statistics pages on the rwc2011 website)

  • Comment number 62.

    You know the statistics from the IRB rankings sort of sum it up (we've dropped 10th behind Tonga by the way):

    There is a huge statistical gap between the northern hemisphere teams and us.

  • Comment number 63.

    I am a huge admirer of Andy Robinson but can't help feeling that Scotland have adopted the worst traits of England when they were under his tenure.

    Most classic was the Evans brother who's retired (sorry I can't remember which one he is) saying "I don't understand it, they score loads of tries in training" met with stifled guffaws from sean Fitzpatrick and Dayglow.

    Scotland and the SRU need to set themselves a long-term target, remedy what's preventing them from achieving it and then putting the foundations in place.

    Their first problem is getting player numbers up you cannot expect to move forward with just 2 professional teams. The second problem is accepting the pain of defeat in the short-term. Its pointless hailing scruffy wins at home as some sort of rugby renaissance. Their "big" wins of late have come from disrupting the opposition and picking up points where possible the reason they lost to England and to a degree Argentina was because, as Scotland tired, the opposition regained control of their own play and were allowed to turn the screw. agsinst Romania, Scotland showed off a bit but lost defensive shape and compsure and showed the rest of the group that they just needed to ride the storm.

    Dare I say it, perhaps the Scots need to start looking at performance rather than results. Not sure Mr Robinson is the right man for that job.

  • Comment number 64.

    There is so much hidden talent in the housing schemes of Scotland but they will never get the opportunity to try Rugby because it still has this elitist reputation about it. I am a working class guy who was lucky enough to have a public school in the 70's that taught rugby, I stumbled on a game that i was actually no-bad at and loved. So here is a thought. Why doesn't the SRU take rugby to the streets of Scotland. How? By attaching community coaches to local schools and (bare with me) the local football team. Most Football clubs have great training facilities and most are situated in the heart of the local community(housing schemes). My club St Mirren often do street football weeks for the kids so why not street rugby with the onus on skills. By attaching to a Football club you would have all the publicity needed to attract kids. Also not forgetting that this is where the new immigrant Scots will mostly settle, so more talent to unearth. But this can only be done with some out the box thinking. If you get these kids early enough then like me they will end up loving a game that they thought was just for the "Finlay's" of this world.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think some of the comments are overly pessimistic and introspective. The reality is that Scotland should have topped the group. It was a lack of game management and the being clinical which ultimately did for them in the end. So despite the obvious disappointment, as an Irish fan, I dont think you should be too disheartened with regards to the future. I thought the performance against England was very brave and with guys like Evans and Gray coming through, the future looks reasonably bright.

    In 2007, Ireland had a shocking tournament, for whatever reasons. But we didn't become a bad team overnight. In the previous Spring, we narrowly missed out on a grand slam after a last minute loss to the french. We came back though, as will Scotland. There's far too much tradition and innate rugby ability and nous in Scotland for them to become a tier 2 nation. It will never happen. Its just a bit of a bad patch, much like Ireland in the 90's, but we were able to sort ourselves out and get the structures in place that lead to proper player development. So I believe the answer as one previous comment touched on is to develop the academy system around your 2 pro teams. Get a serious academy structure in place and the rest will follow. In Ireland, Leinster stole a bit of a march on the other provinces with our academy structure, though Munster and Ulster are now catching up. Base your academies on the Leinster model (as English premiership teams are now doing by the way). The investment in youth development will improve performances over time leading to silverware, which in turn will increase popularity and interest in the game amongst young people. Seven or eighth years ago, Leinster played home games in front of ~2000 fans if even. Now we play in front of an average of probably somewhere like 15000. Go figure. You need to get Scottish people excited about their club rugby again, get them going to games. Build the brand, create revenue and marketing opportunities. The national setup will reap the benefit. At the moment, 2 pro teams is the ideal number for Scotland to work from given the player numbers, but you never know, in ten years time, there might even be a need for a third pro team to support increasing pro player numbers.

    With regards to robinson, I think he's the right man for the job, as he really seems committed to Scotland. Support him with world class coaches. Look at Irelands coaches under Kidney. Gert Smal (World cup winning forwards coach), Les Kiss (world class rugby league pedigree), Alan Gaffney (massive experience at top level), Greg Feek (world class scrum guru). With a proper setup around him, Robinson will deliver.

    Scotland should and will improve. The union just needs to get the finger out. As an Irish fan, both ourselves and Wales need a strong Scotland. Its essential for the success of the celtic league and the six nations.

  • Comment number 66.

    Maybe time for some of the "old guard" to hang up their international boots and make space for some fresh legs...

    We also need to fresh up the coaching staff. Not necessarily the top man, but some below, coaches who can coach and get the team playing. Full respect to Townsend, but he isn't a coach. Great players don't always make good or great coaches!

    We need to scour the globe for a natural 10 to control the game and get us moving forward. Our current 10's are not really international class. True 10's are natural players - you can't make one...

  • Comment number 67.

    #55 it costs £5 for under 18s to get in. That's not a lot of money!

    #64 Good point and following on from #65's point, the state of football is there to be exploited. Football in Scotland will take far longer than Rugby to improve!

  • Comment number 68.

    what a whole load of sense you make and as a celtic cousin it's quite touching. Self belief is probably just one ingredient that the Scots failed to keep when they were ahead of both Argentina and England. The noise in the players minds was just too overwhelming and that may have contributed to the fatal non-collection of the re-start in both games. I simply do not believe that they thought that the game was won......just that they had, against odds and predictions managed to get themselves to that point....! and instead of keeping their foot on the opponents neck they just lost the verve that had got them there in the first place.

    Mr Beattie.....I'm not convinced that AR is the right guy for Scotland because I think he played the wrong players against Argentina and we were then left too much to do against our heads in any case.....Sadly against my defence Parks actually played his best game for some time against England (at least for 60 minutes) but he lost the game for Scotland against Argentina and Jackson should never have been subbed. Had Scotland beaten Argentina then this blog would not exist and Scotland would be relishing a challenge against a somewhat out of sorts French team (because we would have gone on to beat England as a consequence of the correct team selection)

    Ifs, buts and maybes.....but Scotland's slide in the IRB world rankings are not to do with the team but the coach and the strangest selection issues.

  • Comment number 69.

    John - good blog.

    Long term it has been talked in depth in the past about; getting into the state schools, improving coaching quality, playing during the summer, club and pro structure improvement etc. Yes we need all these things so I will not go over old ground.

    But what about the next 2-4 years?

    We must improve and we must get back to top 8 prior to the next RWC draw.

    I was at the Edinburgh v Munster match on Friday and watched Glasgow v Cardiff on the TV, is it time to give these young guys a chance sooner rather than later? Why can other countries play guys in the early twenties but we are so reluctant to do so? The current crop of Scotland backs (and some forwards) seem to play with a fear and an lack of clarity when we get into the opposition 22 that the young guys have not developed...yet...

  • Comment number 70.

    I actually don't want the Test players to come back, I really like watching the Glasgow and Edinburgh reserves.

    I hope they have to work for their spots again.

    Colin Gregor is the best 9 OR 10 we have and he is criminally underused by Scotland. He is absolute dynamite.

  • Comment number 71.

    For me, it wasnt just the England game that cost the scots their early departure. They had not done enough all tournament, and seemed to be fooling themselves that their performances v Romainia and Georgia were good enough. What i mean is this. Had Scotland held on to their 9 point lead and beaten England, they would still be going home. With out 4 tries they were doomed, and against England who have the best defense in this WC so far, that was never going to happen.
    Even their WC build up seemed too slow, not enough games. There is deffiantely a shortage of players in the scotland ranks but their are a few gems there (Evans, Lamonts, Murray), build the team round these players may have been a better option.

    As for a few people who ahve suggested Scotland were the BETTER team on Saturday and should have won. This is not the case. Scotland lost becasue they were NOT the better team. Its the same thing with Wales v SA, Wales lost because they were second best. Failure to turn pressure into points, and take their chances. Foden did well to slow a Scotish attack, but Danieli (think it was him) should have been able to pick a ball off the deck and score the try. However that would still not have been enough.

    I agree with you John (for once) maybe this is what Scotland need.......I hope for you all the guys at the top of the SRU realise this!

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm probably not really qualified to comment here as I'm on the west coast of the USA and a bit removed from the guts of it all but I'm still an avid rugby fan from Hawick and have hardly adjusted to the professional era, a bit like my countrymen it seems, who seem to be on the verge of being a second-tier squad for the first time, and it seems to have been waiting in the wings for a long time.
    I thank #65 "Leinsterfan" for the comforting and optimistic words but I've been following my national team via the 6N on the BBC and by proxy server at the WC, including the last three live and can only see a downward trend (Hawick is struggling too).
    I mean, even in defeat, most of the other "Minor" teams managed to score tries for Gawd's sake!
    I come from a culture best illustrated by an old story told by my hero and former rugby and P.E. teacher Bill McClaren, when in a sevens tournament long past, Jackie Wright of Hawick, playing a sevens team with the famed Irish International winger Tony O'Reilly who had just dropped a goal after a couple of try-scoring runs, shouted out to his team mate "Hey O'Reilly, oo dinna drop goals in seevins, oo scoor tries!" (I'm sure y'all can manage the translations).
    The foregoing is the antithesis of what the Scottish team has become. Mud-wallers and spoilers and it appears, Murrayfield emptiers!
    Goodness knows, I'd rather go down to another team striving for the line than hope for rain and mud, and thereby achieve a reputation as an aggressive and attacking, creative and mobile side like Wales, Ireland, France and for heaven's sake Italy, with a strong half back base going forward rather than looking for a bit of a gap and hoping somebody will be there to get a hand on the punt -but then what???
    I've just about jumped into or over my TV or computer so many times now at Dan Park's consistent but always speculative up and under's in VERY promising scoring situations, always gathered and cleared and built on (my wife's patience and forbearance amazes me) but NOT try-delivering as another phase or two would have logically provided!
    And I think that Chris Cusiter is a much more aggressive and attacking scrum half than Blair but he had little chance to show this.
    I actually have a decent feeling about Any Robinson but have no idea, from this distance, of his depth in breadth as a professional coach with a needlessly shallow pool of quality players to work with and I imagine his frustration at present after a promising start, to view such a slide from grace.
    And I see Italy moving forward and upward concurrently and good on them -at least they are trying to attack the line when they get a chance -Treviso are now right up there in the team contests (I forget the new title of what used to be the Magners League).
    The SRU are never going to fill or even get a good crowd at Murrayfield if this keeps up and in the era of marketing, (I hate it but ----!) it looks like we have to put more than a few quid into promotion of the game.
    I played my first game and "scoor'd ma first try" at the tender age of nine for Hawick/Drumlanrig. Why can we not start this front and center and put national pride on the menu.
    By the way, "Politically correct", mamby-pamby touch-rugby be damned; the real game is physical and I've never had any lasting damage from hits at that age.
    The "Posh" game hardly applies to the Borders either, does it?

  • Comment number 73.

    @65: leinsterfan

    'I think some of the comments are overly pessimistic and introspective. The reality is that Scotland should have topped the group.'

    When, and why should they have? England are ranked no 4 in the world, how many places above scotland, and Argentina (pre WC) AND England are 6N champions......take either of them and alone you have justifucation to say England should win the group. And oh.......we did!

  • Comment number 74.

    I find it surprising to read on here some comments about how should have won the game against England when actually i didn't think that England looked uncomfortable at all apart from maybe the first 15mins. Once England settled down I thought they were basically just waiting for the right time to score.

    I also think JW went for a couple to many drop goals and if he had kept the ball in hand a bit more we could have put even more pressure on your defence.

    At the end of the day, Scotland couldn't beat England, couldn't beat Argentina and struggled against romania. didn't deserve to do anything other than fly back home.

    the big question now is how do you go about becoming a good team again?

  • Comment number 75.

    Liverpaul85 it is deffinately not a case of Scotland shouldnt have won, but deffiantely Scotland couldnt have won.

    The first part of building a good team is getting your tactics right (this involves having the right coaches). There is no point trying to play a kicking game when you just dont have it in you........Fiji. And there is no point trying to run everything if you dont have the players. Scotland fall in the inbetween. They have too many average players, but if they find the right game plan their total could be greater than the sum of their parts!

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 75

    I think the scots also need some better players. As john states some of the guys just aren't good enough. Yeah there are a few who are pretty good, but there doesn't seem to be any that would get into any of the top 5 sides in the world. i think it could be a few years until scotland build a decent side

  • Comment number 77.

    How do you get better players? You cant just tell someone to be better. I think they could make better use of the players they had.
    When Max Evans went off I know I was a lot happier about Englands chances of winning.
    As I said earlier, you need to identify your best players and utilise them, play to your strengths. Get the tatics right is the first thing. You have to play with the players you have.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 77

    what i meant by that was that they don't seem to have any better players and thats the problem. Not saying you can tell a player to be better.

    the problem with just utilising the 2-3 very good players is that the play becomes predictable. Need 15 good players to win matches and scotland don't seem to have 7.....

  • Comment number 79.

    I disagree.......Argentina dont have 15 good players. England dont have 15 good players.
    I am not saying you will win much with 2 - 3 very good players. Really you want quality in all 22 of your players.

    But you can do alright with just 2 - 3 in the right places.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'll change my statement. you need 15 good players to compete with the top sides.

    and i disagree that England don't ave 15 good players. I think that most of the england players would get in to most sides within the top 8. At the moment i feel england have good individuals who aren't playing as a team. unlike scotland wo had 12-13poor players, and a 2-3 good ones, playing as a team which is why they seemed to give England a tougher game than many expected

  • Comment number 81.

    Wahey - now we're down to 10th, with Tonga's win over the French boosting them above us in the eyes of the IRB. Fair play to 'em!

    Mr. Beattie reckons there are some 38,000 registered rugby players in Scotland. Tonga has less *men* than that in their entire Kingdom, period, that are of an appropriate age to play in any sort of competitive match. Tonga has a population of a little over 100,000, and the sexes are more or less evenly distributed. Leave out those incapable of playing at this sort of level (kids and pretty much anyone much past middle age) and you have a tiny pool of candidates.

    With such a small population, how'd they manage that?

    Whatever the answer is to fixing the Scottish game, it definitely has to start in the schools, and at a much earlier age than my own introduction to the game. Before I'd turned twelve, I'd never handled a rugby ball.

    I grew up a bit down the Clyde from Glasgow, and the first (and pretty much only) opportunity I had to play was in high school, where we got a few weeks of rugby each year in P.E. The classes were definitely more geared towards getting through those few sessions just because they were on the curriculum, rather than to stimulate any sort of interest, never mind competency.

    Our school had a single pitch, a poorly-maintained stretch of badly uneven ground where the grass was always completely overgrown, hiding a multitude of holes and a fair supply of broken glass (I've got a fairly decent scar from landing on a piece in one game). The original intent had been as a rugby pitch, given the posts at each end, though I'm not sure why they even bothered putting them up. I certainly don't remember ever playing a single game on the full length of the park.

    As short-lived as it was, I enjoyed the experience. I never was anything other than average at football, and there was just something about the physical aspect of rugby that resonated with me. I enjoyed making tackles, and I enjoyed taking hits in return.

    I didn't play again until after Uni, where the first job I landed was down south. I worked with a pretty decent bunch of blokes, who tried to keep a semi-regular game going after work, which was fun.

    I just don't understand why it took until high school for us to get any exposure to the game. It's not as if the costs involved are any higher than the likes of football for kids to get started - the bare minimums are a ball and a stretch of grass longer than a few feet, which most schools should be able to provide. Surely if primary school kids were introduced to rugby, that would ultimately result in a groundswell of young players a yew years down the line?

    From the comments above, it sounds like things haven't changed much in the 20 years since I started high school and played for the first time. That's kinda sad.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 81

    I am 26 and i remember playing "tag" rugby from a very early age, maybe from the age of about 8-9 so i think the school system in scotland is that far behind the english one. Maybe it is something that seriously needs looking at. By the time I was twelve i knew (pretty much) all the rules or at least understood what they meant and was making proper tackles and we would do sessions based on different skills, ball handling, tackling etc.

    Maybe this is part of the reason Scotland seem to be lacking?

  • Comment number 83.

    My children are (or were) at one of Scotland’s top rugby playing schools. For them rugby started in J1 I think. But … most of the parents know that, if they want their kids to do well, they have to take them to the local major rugby club and enroll them for junior rugby there – which starts at U9.

    One should never underestimate the importance of parents. Almost every successful sporting child that I know has succeeded not only because of their personal ability but also due to the support, encouragement and chauffeuring of their parents. I have two children who have represented Scotland at junior and senior level (not at rugby though) and along the way I have seen a lots of kids with great potential but who unfortunately didn’t have parents who valued sport or with the disposable income to drive them all over the country for competitions.

  • Comment number 84.


    Where did the two Scottish regions finish in the Magners League last year? So far this year Glasgow are struggling although Edinburgh have had a couple of good results. A Scottish pro team has never won the league. How well have Scottish pro teams done in the Heineken Trophy in the last decade, how often do they get out of the group stage? Scottish club Rugby was always a mile behind Welsh and English club rugby. How many Borders clubs are in the top flight? Jed, Kelso and Gala are struggling, Only Melrose have a reasonable change of winning the league. First division club rugby is the equivalent of the old 2nd division in the 80's, 'Premiership 3 is the equivaslent of the old regional leagues. How well are Scottish Clubs doing in the club Euro tournament? Answer bottom of the groups, only Ayr have managed any resemblance of respectability. Schoolboy rugby is a joke. Wales, England and Ireland Under 20's play for their pro teams, ours are stuck at the Scottish Institute for Sport. Edinburgh play week in week out with 2000 supporters in a stadium for 67,000, Glasgow play at a clapped out football stadium with a small narrow pitch (not good for developing running rugby). I watched both of last years Glasgow/Edinburgh games, both extremely poor spectacles. I believe last years Scotland Wales under 18 game ended 33 - 0 to Wales.

    The SRU has tinkered with the league structure for years, it was like arranging the deck chairs on the titanic. A massive overhall from top to bottom is required and we need a development region, which is what the Borders was supposed to be, look at the improvement in Connaught's Rugby.

  • Comment number 85.

    @73: Daverichallen

    Your point about the pre-WC team rankings is completely irrelevant as I never brought the rankings into my initial posting.

    Scotland should have won both the Argentina and England games, but didn't based on naivety and poor concentration in the closing stages of both games. Of course Argentina and England deserved to win, as they put the points on the board. End of story. But from a Scottish perspective (and i'm Irish), they should have won both games as they were the better team for the majority of both games and had territorial dominance. That's not saying that they deserved to win, or that they don't have their faults such as current back play or poor decision making at key times. They do. But to be completely analytical about it, they should have converted their dominance (thought the games were close) into wins.

    Against England, Scotland had the momentum for alot of the game, despite the most the cynical, negative, and deliberately spoiling approach I have seen from a tier 1 nation in a long while. Ultimately, a lack of experience from the Scots in tight big games, counted against them and they were unable to close it out. That point stands regardless of whatever limitations the Scots are believed to have, they should have won both games.

    On a final point, your arrogant 'And oh.......we did!' remark smacks of the attitude that certain england fans bring to these kind of debates. I wouldn't be getting to carried away with the rankings, given that you only managed one good performance against the Romanian B team. Your hardly setting the world alight with that form. The players are probably spending too much time boozing, throwing dwarfs and being generally sleazy towards hotel staff to concentrate on the rugby.
    Whoever wins between Wales and Ireland, you're going to get stuffed in the semi's.

  • Comment number 86.


    It's a nice idea, but if Scotland should have won against Argentina and England, they would have. Now, Wales should have won against South Africa, because they scored more points, they just weren't awarded by the ref. But in both of Scotlands' games, the opposition scored more points than us, so we lost. End of.

    England supporters have every right to be arrogant. They have a 100% record from the group stage, despite not playing at their best, numerous on and off-field crises and losing by far their best scrummager to injury. They face a QF against a disfunctional France team that seems determined to outdo their footballing compatriots for displays of incompetence at a world cup, and then a semi against either Wales or Ireland. Now, compared to the lot of your average Scotland supporter, I think that entitles them to feel reasonably self-satisfied.

    Scotland's problems began long before this tournament, before Andy Robinson even helped England win the World Cup in 2003, and they wouldn't be resolved by Scotland making it through to the quarters or semis. Quite the reverse. Any over-achievement by the national team at this RWC would simply have papered over the cracks of the true state of the game in Scotland. I don't enjoy watching Scotland lose, but successive seasons finishing fifth in the 6N I think pretty accurately reflects where Scotland sit in the scheme of things. Not as good as the other home nations or France, and well behind the main southern hemisphere sides.

    The issue is not whether we should have beaten Argentina or England this time, but whether we should expect to win every time we play against them. Right now, the answer is no.

    If, as a consequence of our exit from the RWC, the SRU accepts that no matter how much guff the likes of Ferrie writes about the Scotland and pro teams, the game in this country is in serious trouble, and comes up with a clear strategy to grow the sport at all levels, then I for one will be quite happy that we left New Zealand when we did.

  • Comment number 87.

    Feel sorry for Jackson.... so much pressure on his shoulders & he doesnt really have an act to follow ...only "dead mens shoes". Now people are starting to say we need to scour the world for a decent 10. Have to agree with PHILMUS.. apart from the afore-mentioned, how many other backs have we introduced from our age-grade teams when they have performed well ? Wales have 20/22 year-olds in Williams North and Halfpenny ....all snatched from U-20, groomed & now regulars in the starting line up.

    Shouldnt we be looking closely at the pool of current and previous young scottish U-20s for a class 10 & 12, or have their details have been consigned to languish in some SRU drawer ?

  • Comment number 88.

    From my perspective the problems are 2 fold, in that we have a lack of pro-teams, and a lack of winners in the team.

    Firstly, with only 2 pro-teams we dont have a big enough pool of players, so there is not enough back up if players are injured. If you look at Stand off as an example, 2 years ago we had both Parks and Jackson at Glasgow. You would have wanted Jackson to get loads of game time being the up and coming talent, but Parks was the Scotland player so needed game time as well, and as Godman was at Edinburgh and Scotland back up what do you do? At the moment outwith Parks and the lads at the 2 teams our next choice of stand off playing at the highest level is Gordon Ross at London Welsh (i think).

    I would suggest we need about 4 pro teams, (as Wales and Ireland have) to start getting a better pool of players to pick form. This way youngsters coming through will have more chance of getting a game. As said earlier the best players at U20 level in other countries are playing week in week out and are able to get fast tracked into the senior international team, ours never get near the team as in most cases there are current international players holding down that position.

    Also I would actually go out and sign up some top class foriegn players as marque players. Not fill the teams but 2 or 3 quality signings. This would help to sell the games and aid in the what seems like quite poor PR by the clubs. If you look at the Welsh and Irish teams, they all have at least 1 or 2 really high profile (usually ex tri nations players) playing for them. When was the last time you were really excited by a signing that Glasgow or Edinburgh made? Would signing some big Samoan center give the fans a bit of a buzz, or maybe a Georgian prop get people interested? This would help to sell games to people and put bums on seats. Also it would help the teams by raising the standard of play, and also they would be able to pass on some of their experieince to the younger players.

    It would also hopefully bring a bit of a winning menatility to the teams, which is my second point. If you watch either of hte pro teams, they seem to play quite well at times, without really having that killer instinct to close games out, or be ruthless about winning. Maybe it comes from the fact that there is no relegation in the league so if they lose it doesn't really matter that much. But if you look at the Scotland team man by man, who out of that has really won anything? Look at th

  • Comment number 89.

    From my perspective the problems are 2 fold, in that we have a lack of pro-teams, and a lack of winners in the team.

    Firstly, with only 2 pro-teams we dont have a big enough pool of players, so there is not enough back up if players are injured. If you look at Stand off as an example, 2 years ago we had both Parks and Jackson at Glasgow. You would have wanted Jackson to get loads of game time being the up and coming talent, but Parks was the Scotland player so needed game time as well, and as Godman was at Edinburgh and Scotland back up what do you do? At the moment outwith Parks and the lads at the 2 teams our next choice of stand off playing at the highest level is Gordon Ross at London Welsh (i think).

    I would suggest we need about 4 pro teams, (as Wales and Ireland have) to start getting a better pool of players to pick form. This way youngsters coming through will have more chance of getting a game. As said earlier the best players at U20 level in other countries are playing week in week out and are able to get fast tracked into the senior international team, ours never get near the team as in most cases there are current international players holding down that position.

    Also I would actually go out and sign up some top class foriegn players as marque players. Not fill the teams but 2 or 3 quality signings. This would help to sell the games and aid in the what seems like quite poor PR by the clubs. If you look at the Welsh and Irish teams, they all have at least 1 or 2 really high profile (usually ex tri nations players) playing for them. When was the last time you were really excited by a signing that Glasgow or Edinburgh made? Would signing some big Samoan center give the fans a bit of a buzz, or maybe a Georgian prop get people interested? This would help to sell games to people and put bums on seats. Also it would help the teams by raising the standard of play, and also they would be able to pass on some of their experieince to the younger players.

    It would also hopefully bring a bit of a winning menatility to the teams, which is my second point. If you watch either of hte pro teams, they seem to play quite well at times, without really having that killer instinct to close games out, or be ruthless about winning. Maybe it comes from the fact that there is no relegation in the league so if they lose it doesn't really matter that much. But if you look at the Scotland team man by man, who out of that has really won anything? Look at

  • Comment number 90.

    (Cont as i think my ramblings were to long..)

    Look at the countries that should be our peers like Wales and Ireland, where Leinster and Munster have won the Heiniken cup in the last 5 years. If we bring in players that have that winning mentality then maybe it will rub off on some of our homegrown players.

    Alternatively we could always petition the IRB to finish games after 70 minutes rather than 80?

  • Comment number 91.

    There is definitely a shortage of quality players in the Scotland ranks and this means that the coaches can only coach what is put in front of them.
    Parks/Jackson .
    Neither has that something extra which makes them international class , also so predictable
    De Luca/ Morrison/Lamont/Ansbro
    Good hardworking pro's . Unfortunately none of them has that little bit of flair that makes them international class

    The forwards
    Just a little " tweek" here and there and this could become a formidable pack
    Fullback/half backs.
    Enough competition there to keep the " contenders " on their toes

    Find a No10/12/13 with some class and I for one would be optimistic

  • Comment number 92.

    For me the main problem is that Scotland cannot 'finish.' To do this you need finishers - the other top teams have this. NZ - take your pick, SA - Habana, England - Ashton, France - Clerc, Wales - Shane Williams and now George North, Ireland - Bowe and B'OD.

    Scotland haven't had a major try-scoring player for years now and this to me was the difference in the World Cup. In the England game for example, after Danielli's break, Shane Williams or Vincent Clerc would have scored where Nick De Luca failed.
    We are not that far behind otherwise - we were competitive in all areas with England and Argentina, but just couldn't cross the whitewash.

    Roll on July 2012 and step forward Tim Visser?

  • Comment number 93.

    For me now, it's about giving this current group of players one last shot at justifying their continued representation of their country, starting with the 6 Nations in Feb 2012.

    I think the likes of Hines, Parks and unfortunately Paterson, Jacobsen, Danielli et al, should then step aside to give us the chance to develop younger players who have either been on the fringes, or have not yet had exposure at international level.

    The trouble of course, is how much strength in depth will we be left with. The answer, unfortunately, is probably not much to begin with. This however will never change unless we start putting our belief in the next generation of Scottish rugby players and start investing our time at involving and developing them.

    We do have some genuinely exciting players in Sean/Rory Lamont, Max Evans, Richie Gray, Joe Ansbro and Rudy Jackson. Add to that the killer B's and the likes of Ford, Murray, Cross, Rennie, Vernon, De Luca - you know it's not that bad a core of players to take forward for the next 2-4 years.

    I love Andy Robinson and his passion, and I'd be sad if he goes - because honestly who would come in and inspire, motivate and push the players moreso than he has?.

    Ultimately, we're just not good enough to beat the top 8 nations consistently, and if we don't bring in new blood on the pitch and behind the scenes, we never will.

    We are high in spirit and belief, lower in skill, execution and decision making. Physically we can compete for 80 minutes, techincally we make mistakes under pressure and at key junctures which change the outcome of our matches.

    I've seen people mention the likes of Tim Visser, and though it tends to divide opinion, I think 'adopted' Scotsman, if better than our available 'pure' players should always be considered. We can't afford to be Xenophobic about talent out there - if they have quality and they WANT to play for Scotland, consider them when they become eligible. Joe Ansbro was one of our best at the World cup, and we all know that many key players over the years have had significant ties to other nations - but we should embrace the players with potential who desire to be part of a succesful Scottish rugby team in the future.

    We should start now, and take the first steps towards making it happen.

    We've all felt the pain and frustration for too long.

    I'm sick of feeling the disappointment of seeing our boys lose out.

    Scotland the brave is the same as Scotland, not quite good enough.

    Scotland the ruthless, and Scotland winning rugby matches is where every player, coach and fan want us to be.

    I love Rugby, and I love my country. I want to see the people in the game who can make the changes necessary for us to improve and start winning consistently, step up and make this team better.

    I will be watching closely over the next 3 months in the lead up to the 6 nations.

    We should be challengers, not 5th or 6th.

    1st game against England at Murrayfield will be another epic - Always Believe...

  • Comment number 94.

    90 HonestlyUnited

    The probelms with comparison with Ireland is that the Irish have huge success due to being able to afford to keep their top players based in Ireland. Therefore the likes of O'Driscoll, O'Connell etc are happy to play for their provinces & don't need to go abroad to seek their playing fortunes. This is combined with an astute professional structure all aimed at supplying the National team with good quality players.

    The SRU on the other hand is flat broke with the debt of building Murrayfield hampering it at every move! I cannot see Scotland improving in the near future if ever at all. Our player resources are dwindling fast & our organisational structures permitting the decline to happen.

    I'm sorry to be so negative but I can't really see a way back for us, particularly when the solution required is probably something very radical & the SRU don't do radical do they?

  • Comment number 95.

    Firstly must say excellent blog John, thanks for starting it up. I feel I have just about calmed down now after the last two weekends results (more upset with the performance and result against Argentina). I don’t want to make excuses for the poor showing at this world cup but at crucial times in the last two matches I think we have been unlucky with match decisions. In the Argentina game all three officials missed noticing that Argentina were offside when Parks was going for his missed drop goal. And during the England game all the officials failed to notice Armitage’s high tackle on Patterson which would have been a yellow card offence surely since he has been ban for one match. Also think that was before England scored their try but correct me if I am wrong on that.

    Although could use the cliché that you create your own luck and that I am slightly biased on these opinions. However, really think that Scotland’s inability to break down defences and keep the score board ticking over when we were in the ascendancy has once again cost us dearly. Whether this is predominantly down to the coaches or players issues or psychological blocks etc when it comes to finishing off moves is up for debate. But personally I think its six of one half a dozen of the other, really don’t think either can take more blame than the other. As it has been a problem for a while but you couldn’t lay lame at the coaching staff for a player knocking on a ball when they are cms from the try line.

    I do think that the SRU has to do a lot better though in many areas, with major issues at both the elite level and grass roots levels of the sport in Scotland. They don’t seem to be pulling in one direction. My major concern is the lack of professional teams we have when compared to Italy, Ireland, Wales, France and England who we are trying to compete with each year. I really believe there is potential for the sport in Scotland to expand particularly in the north and north eastern regions but travel infrastructure may be a problem with this idea. Regardless invested is needed if we wish to remain a top Rugby nation.

    Final point I promise, more emphases should be placed in youth skill development coaching across all sports in Scotland (very biased opinion again as I am a sports science grad who has been trying to get into this line of work for a few years now unsuccessfully).

  • Comment number 96.

    @85 leinster101

    There was never a point when scotland should have topped the group. They could have. But never had the right to. My comments about world rankings and 6N refers to how one might have looked at the group pre WC. I think everyone would look at it and say England should win the group.
    Then the WC gets under way.....England stutter, but win, Scotland just never get going. After the first two games it's too early to say who should win the group, but as soon as Scotland lost to Argentina they lost claim to that. Sure they could have, but never should have.

    And for my "arogant" comment, maybe it was a little. But there has been so much England bashing and general negativity I was just focusing onthe positives. Dispite all our failings and stumbles, we are winning. At the end of the day, thats ALL that matter at a WC.
    As for your comments about Englands form and off field antics (which have been blown way out of proportion) sounds to me like a bad loser. We may not be setting the world alight, but we set it more alight than Scotland did, and as I said we are still winning!

    obangobang seems to have a better grasp on things!

    Side note you're = you are

  • Comment number 97.

    I don't think scotland ever showed, at any point this WC or over the last 10 years, that they are world beaters. they have had the odd good game at murrayfield and thats about it.

    there is some serious development needed in the scottish schools, Rugby clubs and academies to try to get the youngsters up to a half decent level because at the moment scotland look like a 3rd tier team. The struggled against romania, weren't clincal enough against Argentina and never actually looked like beating an England side that is nowhere near playing its best rugby. But England didn't have to play good rugby, they knew that scotland would shoot themselves in the foot and give england opportunities to win the game.

    also, some of the posts on here are BORING!!!! probably the most long winded comments i've ever seen on a blog!!


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