BBC BLOGS - John Beattie
« Previous | Main | Next »

Great wins for Edinburgh and Glasgow

Post categories:

John Beattie | 17:19 UK time, Sunday, 13 November 2011

So there we are, two excellent results for Glasgow and Edinburgh. And I think they were down to two things - good players and improving game structure.

The first point is that, as always, the quality of Scottish players is as good as any in the UK. For far too long we have been told by a succession of coaches that they are working with a certain, perhaps lesser, quality of player.

Actually, that's nonsense. The English league is full of Scottish players and there's a crop of young players who are as good as anything out there. I would say that Duncan Weir and Harry Leonard at stand-off are international class.

I first saw Duncan Weir playing at school level, and he was extraordinary.

The Glasgow Warriors players show their delight at Richie Gray's match-winning try at Firhill. Photo: SNS

The Glasgow Warriors players show their delight at Richie Gray's match-winning try at Firhill. Photo: SNS

Let's look elsewhere and think of Robert Harley who, as a youngster at West, was plainly going to play for Scotland one day. You've got Richie Gray, the two young Ryans - Grant and Wilson - Stuart Hogg at full-back and Pat McArthur at hooker.

That's Glasgow, and Edinburgh are similarly equipped. Tim Visser will play for Scotland when his residency is up, Lee Jones scored one try, while David Denton and Stuart McInally, who scored the other, are obviously international class.

And I haven't named the existing internationals. We have great players in this country, always have done.

Jim Telfer's success with Scotland and then the Lions proved the value of a coach.

What the players always needed was a structure. This season they've got it.

Both teams are better prepared physically this season too. There has been much more running in pre-season and that's been too much for the more stodgy English teams in this first round of the Heineken Cup.

Glasgow's game plan has changed completely, with a three-pod system which must have been copied during the summer from the likes of Saracens, Gloucester and Canterbury.

And that intersperses a one-pass game and players who are keen and know clearly where they are meant to be on the pitch.

Edinburgh, for their part, played a smash-up, one-pass game and then got it wide.

Both were sufficiently intelligent to ensure they kept the ball, and both sufficiently structured to ensure that when it all broke down there were plenty of bodies at the right place at the right time.

Neither system is the same as the one employed by the current Scotland team, though. Maybe they don't need to be.

And in defence, too, there was more bite. I know Scottish defence coach Graham Steadman was put in to help Glasgow during the week. I don't know who asked for that and don't know what he contributed but the defence was admirable and has been good to date in any case.

I think we have the players to win top-level games. If they are prepared properly and given the right structure to play on the pitch within a positive environment, they can win.

And that applies at international level too. I think we have players who are good enough to win at that level.

It's a great feeling, because if you don't teach your players and don't give them a structure they believe in, then they leave and go elsewhere. LIke Richie Gray.

This weekend was a massive step in the right direction.


  • Comment number 1.

    John as you have stated some of these young players are good enough for international level rugby so should't the Scotland coaches be getting as many of them game time in the up coming 6 nations as possible. As we have seen from Hines hanging his international boots up, shouldn't we be cutting some of the veterans from the squad and blooding some NEW talent. As I often here talked about in the Southern Hemisphere "if your good enough your old enough". Surely the task is now to start to build toward RWC 2015. Get the young boys is sure we may not win games but are we really winning that many at the minute anyway. Lets hope Andy Robinson gives these boys a chance.

  • Comment number 2.

    The results this weekend were fantastic and the perfect start to the new Heineken campaign. Well done to both sides. I don't know if they yet have the quality to get into the knock-out stages but they're getting close. John, I think you make a great point about better coaching and better structure. Glasgow and Edinburgh don't necessarily play the same rugby as Scotland, but the fortunes of both have been considerably better since Robinson's arrival in Scotland. He put in place a good structure with Edinburgh and achieved a very successful run with them before doing the same with Scotland. The results have been a little inconsistent but the performances have been always been solid. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland all lack the superstars of some of their peers but they are all competing well now and I think Robinson deserves some credit.

    @Maha1983, I don't think I can agree that we should sacrifice on results in order to get new talent in. Success breeds success, it inspires the players, gives them greater confidence and self-belief, and most importantly, gets bums on seats and money in the coffers. Scottish rugby needs that desperately.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great results for the pro-teams but they both need to back it up next week with another win.

    John, obviously it's impossible to know how a players career might pan out but what would be your guess at the Scotland team in 2015?

  • Comment number 4.

    jond888, are we really winning that many games just now. Surely you'd rather pay to see the future than the past, I certainly would. As for self belief thats a great thing about youth these guys will all have plenty. Lastly if not now when. You don't see the All Blacks and Wallabies of this world playing guys that maybe aren't the form players in their position just because they have 50 caps.

  • Comment number 5.


    Whenever Andy Robinson's time is up which I don't think is now at all. Please stick an application in for the coach of the national team. I know it's easier to comment on whats happening that be the person who is implimenting it but you seem to know what you are talking about and a few changes in attitude and game plans is what Scotland need now. We have the talent, we just need the belief and the game plan to put in place to believe in too.

  • Comment number 6.

    Was at the Glasgow game as normal, it was a good game apart from the refereeing. Who seemed more interested in looking good on camera than he did in refereeing the game, as the watching fans vented their feelings about some of his strange decisions on the field, and how Bath's No 5 stayed on the field I'll never know, high tackles, off the ball tackles, fist fights with three players. Macarthur looked good, but so did the team. It was nice to see even when changes started to ring in; the players just slotted in and got on with the game. I think Sean will have a big headache when Jackson is fit again. Who would you pick as your no 10 Weir or Jackson? Because Weir played well yesterday, even with Cuister's strange low passes, thankfully Weir could take a ball fired at his feet.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think Scotland have the players awell. Wales and Ireland have both shown Scotland a way forward at international level and scotland should look at Wales and/or Ireland as the benchmark for their international structure as both teams have acheived relatvie success with also limited resources. youth is the way forward even England are now accepting that one...

  • Comment number 8.

    Attended at the game yesterday and was really impressed by Glasgow's defence. Bath looked short of ideas although they will feel agrieved at the final result. Referee gave strange decisons against both teams but then he is from France!

    I don't believe Sean will have any headache picking the number 10. Five wins in a row with Weir awarded the MOM three times!!?? No contest in my opinion. Looking at the one dimensional Dewey he could do worse by utilizing Jackson at centre where he started a few years ago.

  • Comment number 9.

    Glasgow beat a weakened Bath side forced into major midfield change before kick off with a last gasp try at home, and Edinburgh squeezed past an off form Irish, and the shape of scottish rugby has changed?

    Great to win, but really what is their to celebrate about the results other than they won?

    Let's be realistic here, Glasgow yes are fourth in the Pro12 having conceeded nearly as many points as they have scored, but Edinburgh languish near the bottom of the league having lost 5 from 7.

    The fact is until Scotlands professional teams start backing up their performance week in week out the criticism of the players and coaches stand, and lads like Gray will head south to England and France to earn more money but player a more intense level of rugby.

    The fact of it is scottish teams need to be consitantly competitive in the bread and butter of the Pro12 or they will forever be one of win merchants with the big result here and there - and sadly until the pro teams are consisten so will scotland. :(

  • Comment number 10.

    Totally agree with goodNumber10 #9, "one swallow doesn't make summer". As I have said many many many times before until the SRU stop pussy footing about with professionalism Scotland is going nowhere.... And stop promoting gym monkeys into the professional ranks.

    On Sunday's referee again: it was like watching Russell Grant on Strictly; funny, strange, camp, all rolled into one. You couldn’t do anything but watch in wonderment at what was coming next with him. Still scratching my head over some of the decisions!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Good to see many young names, but we should tread carefully, these young players are POTENTIALLY international standard, how many players have been a shoe in to star for their country only to find that it was one step too far? I hope they are good enough, all of them.

    With 4 years to the next world cup though and lots of talented young players around i think it's time to say a huge thank you and best wishes for the rest of your club career to a few, time for new blood.

  • Comment number 12.

    Given the fact we're just about knackered (and we're only 120 miles from Edinburgh thereabouts) I rather fancy the Falcons in the Pro 12 League - simply speaking as soon as we get relegated, the drawbridge will come up behind us for franchise Rubgy - you owe us as Tim Visser played for the Falcons and was a talent then.

  • Comment number 13.

    Firstly, loving the suggestion that JB Snr applies for the Scotland job in the future - I've said it before myself and I genuinely think it's a good shout.

    We absolutely have some cracking talent in and about the Scotland team, and if we can get a group of young players to fulfill their potential we have the core of a highly competitive team that can produce performances, tries, and wins.

    We know our limitations, but lets just accept them and make the most of the passion, ability and desire to be part of a successful team that inspires these guys to go out and bash themselves about for 80 minutes.

    Develop and drive what you've got instead of lamenting elements that we may not have at our disposal.

    Make Richie Gray Scotland captain and bring in the hungry young talents you've all mentioned above and lets build a Scotland team to be even more proud of than usual...

  • Comment number 14.

    Sorry John but your comment 'the quality of Scottish players is as good as any in the UK' is patently untrue, based on the evidence.

    Scotland has and will continue to produce some world-class players, such as Gavin Hastings, Alan Tait, Gregor Townsend, Mike Blair and Richie Gray. However, it does not produce enough of them due to the small player base in Scotland and Rugby Union is not a big enough sport in Scotland for this to happen in the near future. Tournament history shows us this. A Scots team has never won the 'Celtic' (now with Italian's) League, or European Cup (or any European trophy) and the Scotland national team has won 3 Grand Slams in the history of the 5/6 Nations compared to 10 for Wales, 12 for England and 9 for France.

    I'm not trying to make out that Scotland could never produce a team full of World Class players. If Scotland expanded their player base they could produce as many World-Class players as New Zealand. But with the dominance of football in Scotland, this seems unlikely for a very long time. But would you really want Scotland to be a rugby version of Ancient Sparta (as New Zealand appears to be) with everything dedicated to playing one game. Scotland has more to offer than this (sorry, going off the point a bit here!)!

  • Comment number 15.

    Brilliant results all round for the Celtic teams on the opening weekend. A few close games as well which bodes well for a competitive cup competition.

    The two Scottish sides really did themselves proud and stood up in the competition, I hope they can build from this and not drop away. Glasgow showed guts to hold out Bath and steal the game and Edinburgh really mixed up their pool with an away win. If Edinburgh can hold their home games they should be in a qualifying spot.

  • Comment number 16.

    To suggest that New Zealand only concentrates on one sport merely highlights your lack of knowledge on sport in New Zealand.
    Scotland's obsession with football can be compared to New Zealand's take on rugby, but that is where the comparasion ends.
    Having said that I do think that JB makes good comment when stating that the players in Scotland are no better or worse than their counter parts south of the border.
    I seen nothing from England at the world cup to suggest that they were head and shoulders above Scotland. Scotland and the pro sides just need to add that a cutting edge and consistency of performance and they will be challenging with the top sides.

  • Comment number 17.

    Good wins for the Scottish teams, but I don't see how that translates into International success. Bath and Irish are probably 6th and 7th best teams in England, and England are hardly a success on the international stage.

    Would be good to see them do better though!

  • Comment number 18.

    Easy John, you're getting carried away again! You're like a dinghy in a force 9 gale, up and down all the time!

    In the same way that last minute losses in the World Cup doesn't automatically make the Scotland team a bad team, nicking matches in the last minute doesn't make these teams future stars.
    It's nice to see results going our way for a change, but it has to happen more often than not before you can rave about them.

    Dan Parks turned in the same points haul as Duncan Weir at the weekend, and that was away to Racing Metro in Paris, so before we do as the first commenter says and discard all the "old" players, can we make sure they're not doing the business?

    Chris Paterson was one of the oldest players in the World Cup squad, but also one of the best performers.

    However, it is nice to see some decent young players coming through.

  • Comment number 19.

    The point that has impressed me most about Glasgow and Edinburgh this season is that they are prepared to try things. This may be the result of more creative coaching and/or it may be that there is just more confidence. Whatever it is, the teams are believing in themselves and backing their own decisions.

    One thought that keeps going through my head is that perhaps these younger players are not blighted by the idea that they are not good enough because they haven't failed so many times in the past. Stuart Hogg typified this on Sunday when he followed the ball and took his chance because no-one said he couldn't. In the RWC, Scots players held back almost scared to make defensive mistakes and as a result the half chances were lost.

    As always we need a healthy mix of young and old, but whatever we do, please do not let the young rising stars get the dreaded Scots disease of expecting to lose - we're all tired of that particular script.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's the positive attitude that seems to have changed the most lately.

    Too many times I've watched our players walk onto the park with body language that doesn't indicate they believe they can win, but not now and that is encouraging to see. JB makes a fair point that players in Wales or Ireland for example are not so different to the Scots but they are constantly told how good they are by their own media while we do nothing but gripe. That must have an effect.

    It's up to all of us, not just the media, coaches and upper echelons of the SRU to recognise that while we do not have the strength in depth due to playing numbers those at an elite level are good enough to compete and win. They deserve our support and they have mine.

  • Comment number 21.

    20. Totally agree with your post.

  • Comment number 22.

    These results will only be taken seriously by those outwith Scotland if both sides record a few more positive scores in the rest of the Heineken and achieve decent league positions in the Rabo.

    Tiny acorns at the moment but great to see results being achieved by such young squads.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great weekend, also lovely to see Melrose and Ayr BOTH overturning 17 point deficits in the British and Irish Cup. 4 Scotland teams beating 4 English teams in one weekend is a remarkable record. Looking forward to Edinburgh vs Racing Metro on Friday.

    A swallow doesn't make a summer, but it is an excellent start for both of our teams and I think the momentum will carry them through the groups.

    Maybe you could leave the blog open for comments this time John, instead of closing them so early, it's not like 606 is still running.

  • Comment number 24.

    I agree with most comments but what we need to do most is beleive that we can compete and have the players to do so.

    With this new up and comming group we have a right to win and create the win culture, sure there will be the downsides but give them our full support from all involved we can suceed.

    Given the correct input from the SRU and with ability OF THE PLAYERS success breeds success. Ireland is the prime example of how to get the best out of the system and create that winning feeling.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.