BBC BLOGS - John Beattie

Archives for January 2012

Scottish power can upset new-look England

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John Beattie | 11:34 UK time, Sunday, 29 January 2012

What team will Andy Robinson pick to play England and what are the right tactics for Scotland?

Oh, and for what it's worth, I think this new-look England team will have no sense of "arrogance" when they come to Murrayfield on Saturday.

But the visitors will have to fight that sense of being caught in the headlights that has forced teams wearing the rose to founder when they might otherwise have won in Edinburgh in the past.

We Scots like to believe that England's weaknesses are a combination of arrogance and over-confidence.

But the reality is that England's more recent flaws have been stodginess, predictability, lack of conditioning among the older and lazier players, and fear. You can sometimes watch an English team go into its shell and start to question itself. And then they lose.

OK, let's look at a possible Scotland team selection. There are sharp choices to be made between established players and newcomers, but only in certain positions. So, here goes. And one of my guesses is a first cap for Lee Jones, the former Selkirk winger.

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Captain Ford must master soundbite, coin toss and unify team

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John Beattie | 15:05 UK time, Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Right, today we compile a list of the duties performed by an international rugby captain.

Kelly Brown was to be captain of Scotland, but because of his injury, Ross Ford steps in. Well done to him.

I can't pretend to know Ross that well other than to say that he seems a straightforward, hard-working and somewhat quiet bloke. He doesn't appear to be the kind of man who would throw dwarves around a bar, nor dive from a boat about to dock in harbour.

So here's my list of an international team captain's roles - and your job is to add to it.

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Pacy Edinburgh deserve cup berth

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John Beattie | 18:21 UK time, Sunday, 22 January 2012

Well done Edinburgh. What do you think of the way they play?

They are through to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup after beating London Irish and they deserve it. Because here's what I think: Edinburgh are coached superbly by Michael Bradley and Tom Smith.

I watch the Edinburgh forwards and if that's from Tom Smith's input then, well, I really, really like what they do.

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Lessons learned from Lamont Twitter row

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John Beattie | 16:23 UK time, Friday, 13 January 2012

I applaud Rory Lamont for the apology he has given for comments made on Twitter about US president Barack Obama and reckon every rugby player has now learned a lesson.

The trouble is in a world where more and more sportsmen and women are media-trained to be as bland as possible, I want my heroes to say things.

And the truth is that sometimes you can't actually say what you think - especially if the language is too strong.

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Shingler selection has Welsh and Scots in a twist

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John Beattie | 21:19 UK time, Thursday, 12 January 2012

What do you make of the Steven Shingler case? Are you glad this is happening now and we shall have a precedent?

The IRB say the fly-half is ineligible to play for Scotland and that he is tied to Wales, having played for their Under 20s - the stepping stone to the senior side.

Shingler, alarmingly, is on tape and on the BBC Sport website expressing his desire to play for Wales, although he has had an apparent change of heart since that interview.

I am so glad we are about to get a ruling on this. I just don't see it as right that you play age group rugby for one country and then change allegiance unless you live in your new country unless... Well, read on.

Freshly-selected England squad member Lee Dickson is a case in point as he played for Scottish age group teams but was always dual qualified; plays for Northampton and lives in England.

England and Scotland both have 'A' teams as well, so playing for our Under 20 team isn't as near the "top table".

The next step? Scotland and Wales can now enter into a formal process, or, as the IRB put it: "The SRU and WRU may wish the IRB Regulations Committee to consider this matter formally in accordance with IRB Regulation Two. The Unions are aware of the requirements of such a review."

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Can Scotland start afresh with youngsters?

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John Beattie | 16:35 UK time, Thursday, 5 January 2012

So, Andy Robinson has picked his squad for the Six Nations campaign - and no doubt beyond. What do you think of it?

It's a powerful squad with some outstanding prospects but as I see it there are three problem areas.

The first one is captain. Who is he going to pick as captain? Robinson picked Al Kellock then dropped him for a key game at the World Cup.

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