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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.

England scrum-half Ben Youngs is tackled by Scotland's lock Richie Gray as prop Euan Murray looks on during the 2011 Rugby World Cup

Can Scotland get to grips with a new-look England team at Murrayfield?

The first two members of the front row, Alan Jacobsen and Ross Ford are probably certainties as one is the new captain and the other his trusted lieutenant. The tight-head prop could be Geoff Cross who has been outstanding, but my guess is that Robinson will pick Ewan Murray for his scrummaging bulk.

Not naming Al Kellock as captain suggests big Al won't start, so it will be Jim Hamilton and Richie Gray in partnership in the second row.

In the back row there are more options. Richie Vernon isn't starting for Sale so will probably miss out and Kelly Brown is injured. Then there is a battle royal between the open-side wing forwards; Ross Rennie and John Barclay.

Robinson will likely seek to partner Al Strokosh and Barclay at either side of the back row and bring in David Denton at number eight. I can't pick between Rennie and Barclay but perhaps the more experienced man, Barclay, will get the nod.

In the backs it gets very interesting. Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw have been instrumental in Edinburgh's recent Heineken Cup run but I think pragmatism will rule the day and Chris Cusiter's performances against Edinburgh in his head-to-head with Blair and the ability of Dan Parks to slot goals and make ground could edge them ahead as a pairing.

What to do with the midfield? Graeme Morrison is a key player but I think Sean Lamont will start at 12 with Jo Ansbro at 13. That leaves Rory Lamont at full-back and Max Evans on one wing.

What about the other wing? You pick players on form and Edinburgh dynamo Lee Jones is red hot right now.

That's my guess. Jacobsen, Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Gray, Strokosh, Denton, Barclay, Cusiter, Parks, Evans, Lamont, Ansboro, Jones and Lamont.

Now for tactics. Scotland need to get the English, some of whom won't have played under the floodlights at Murrayfield, distinctly upset.

If England think they have the power advantage, then it should be rolling mauls to persuade them that they don't, with Richie Gray, David Denton and Jim Hamilton running at them to invite them to remember their tackling technique.

Add to that mix the Lamont brothers and you begin to see that this is a very powerful Scottish team.

In our own danger area Parks will clear territory and, no matter the weather, my suspicion is that there will be more of a smash-up game than in the past.

All designed to force the English to become predicable, stodgy, and more and more scared.

Thank you, oh force of nature, for bringing the Six Nations around again. it's my reason for living - which started as a kid with a glass of milk and a ham and mustard roll listening to Bill McLaren.

I think Scotland will win, but as it's in the future and I don't have a flux capacitor I can't be sure. All I know is that my band is playing in Edinburgh at night time.

Right, you pick your team and tell me who you think will win.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Good blog John, I enjoyed the perrenial optimism. These are very similar words you used before the World Cup debacle. We don't score enough tries and yet again, I strongly feel that this will be our undoing. We'll huff and puff as usual, but (and I hate to say this), I do feel that even with a transitional side, England will be too good for us.
    Have we magically learned to cross the tryline since last year?

  • Comment number 2.

    John, I suspect you are right with selection that AR will go with except NDL for Ansbro. However I hope that AR follows the Edinburgh game plan and goes with Blair and Laidlaw at half back and a 12 that can off catch, run and pass at speed. We also need to set up quick rucks and recycle the ball fast from the breakdown, with ball carriers taking good angles of BLair and Laidlaw. The english back line is not huge either so I would use this as our opportunity to set out with running back line. My selection would therefore be:

    S Lamont

  • Comment number 3.

    John - great point - you pick the form players.

    Well - if we want to ever be better than 8th 9th or 10th in the world - we can't play Parks and we can't play Cusiter.

    Parks can't tackle and look what he has done to the Cardiff backline - turgid and lacking tries - heard that before........?

    As for Cusiter - he still crabs across the pitch before he passes - been doing it for years but never spotted by coaches - UNLESS its deliberate which is even more bizarre since he uses up the space the backs are supposed to run into.

    We should try and play the way Edinburgh play - not the way Glasgow play - which is why we should give Blair and Laidlaw a start - we need to try and win rather than stop the opposition winning - you can't win more than the odd game unless you try and win.

    As for Barclay - I don't watch Glasgow ever week (thankfully) but haven't seen him have a good game this season (including both games over the Christmas/new year period) when I did watch him - he like Beattie Jnr seems to have lost sharpness and pace.

    Got to be Rennie for the back row - as for No 8 - I like Denton - but he is a No 6 - despite people talking him up as a No 8 - let him play 6 - he is more than capable - and have Vernon at 8 - he is a genuine No 8.

    I like Strokosch - but having watched many Gloucester games this year I cant remember the last time he made an impression on a game - certainly very little in the attacking sense - compare that to Denton this year..

    The backs are harder to pick - would prefer De Luca and Lamont in midfield but agree on Lee Jones.

    Good time to play England!

  • Comment number 4.

    I always enjoy these blogs since they provide a fairly unique Scottish perspective on an English/Welsh heavy website.

    I do find it somewhat lamentable that everyone criticises the English for being "predictable" and "stodgy", yet this is exactly what John seems to want the English to be.

    I personally hope we have a bit more an interesting contest than the previous 3 meetings of these sides (last two Six Nations and World Cup), and I say that as someone supporting the English. I'd rather have a cracking game of rugby and a loss, then the depressingly "stodgy" and "predictable" play that's led to 2 wins and 1 draw.

  • Comment number 5.

    I absolutely agree with Ross about Cusiter. He used to compensate for his slow delivery with some great sniping runs but these seem to be a thing of the past. I used to complain bitterly about Parks and then he came good again but I now think he is back to his old ways. I'd go with Blair and Laidlaw - it's been working at Edinburgh.

    In response to Tempest - Calcutta cup games (and in fact any games) do not need to resemble Southern Hemisphere rugby (league), where all the traditional nuances of the game have been removed to help them appeal to the masses. I will enjoy the atmosphere, the ruck and maul, lineouts and scrums. If we also get some great running rugby so be it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Forwards selection look good but the backs pick looks awful conservative - i'd rather we took the game to the opposition rather than bog them down in some attricional battle, look at how Edinburgh have played recently and note the increased crowd for the HC game! That's what rugby should be about, we have the players to produce good rugby so lets do that!

    Blair is back to his best, it's a close call at SH but i'd pick Mike Blair for the way him and Laidlaw get the backs moving.

    Parks... I certainly hope not. As i mentioned we've got some good players that are totally wasted playing outside Parks. He is not playing well for Cardiff anyway (whereas Laidlaw is on fire for Edinburgh). Laidlaws place kicking has been fine. I'd start with Laidlaw and have Weir on the Bench.

    Sean Lamont doesn't have the distribution to play at 12 - mind you if Parks is playing you might as well put vernon and kellock in the centres for all the ball they'll see...We've got pretty limited options at 12 though, Whatever happened with this Shingler appeal? Is he still Welsh?

    Ansbro hasn't been starting for London Irish, i'm not sure if he's been injured recently or just not selected... i'd pick De Luca who's been playing well.

    Rory Lamonts been behind Hogg at Glasgow all season and has not looked any better when he has played.

    9- Blair
    10- Laidlaw
    11- Jones
    12- Morrisson (Or Shingler if he's elligable)
    13- De Luca
    14- S Lamont
    15- Hogg

  • Comment number 7.

    John how can Ansbro start? He hasn't played in more than a month? Laidlaw and Blair have steered Edinburgh to 5 win in 6 matches in the Heineken, surely they must start. Jim Hamilton isn't nearly dynamic enough in open play, he gets hit, he goes down. Kellock had perhaps the game of his life against Leinster, and I think he and Gray should keep packing down together.

    I'd go for a ball playing side, and I'd rather lose 34-32 playing some rugby with Laidlaw and Blair than win 12-9 with Parks.

    12.Scott- I know he's not in the squad, but he ought to be

    That's a side that can play rugby and score some tries

  • Comment number 8.

    As an Irishman I am filled with envy at the very purpose of your blog John. Trying to work out who will go where and what new blood will slot in. Declan Kidney must be trying to break a record for most capped players on the pitch at the same time with the only real mystery being who is definately going to be wearing the iconic 13.

    That aside Scotland v England is a match I am eagerly awaiting. The banter is always top notch, the hitting hard, and just try to empty you glass (responsibly) everytime Richie Gray is refered to as "the blonde giant." With so many uncapped players potentially starting for England and a new coach (interim or not) declaring a new dawn I am treating England as a complete unknown this year - resulting in even amounts of fear and curiosity.

    Scotland will win if as you say they can annoy England into chaos just as the Irish did last year in Dublin.

  • Comment number 9.

    It has to be Laidlaw and Blair at halfbacks for Scotland to move forward and have some attacking flare. We have a forwards pack that is as big and gnarly as they get. I have no doubt they will dominate the lineout as usual and hold their own in the scrums. As for in the loose, they should run riot, after all look at the size of Grey, Denton and Ford.

    What we need is some bravery in selection.

    Selecting Parks is not an option for me and I guess much of the Scotland fans. We need to play a more attacking game and generate that spark that has been lacking. To select parks would mean the same old kicking game with Sean Lamont crash ball all day. It is predictable and is not working. You have to select Laidlaw and Blair as they are both on form and playing an exciting brand of rugby.

    Lamont should be on the wing as we need to open up space, which we can't do with him at 12. He is one of our best players but he needs to be on the wing with evans, as when he has space he is very dangerous. I would like Hogg to feature in this years Championship but would start him on the bench with Rory at full back.

    My Team would be as follows:

    De Luca

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh come on John this is a little ridiculous.

    I agree with your front five.

    In the Back-row not Strokosch. Harley is your man, adds aggression, physicality and ball handling capabilities in the loose. And Barclay 9 times out of 10 with Denton at 8.

    6 Harley
    7 Barclay
    8 Denton


    Give it a rest. He had his wonder season in 2010 now move on. I dont need to explain why you dont pick him because everyone knows.

    Picking Parks would be a step back.

    Weir or Laidlaw at 10. Pick the fly halves that are in form and young.

    Dont know why people are against Cusiter, he is the best scrum half atm.

    Morrison has been dreadful for Glasgow so definetly not him. Lamont at 12 I suppose as there are no other options. My first 12 would actually be Matt Scott tbh.

    13 is difficult with De Luca injured and Ansboro having no game time at London Irish due to injury. I would pick Max Evans as he is the only realistic option and then ease Ansboro back in. We all saw what happened to De Luca when he was thrown straight back in last year and we dont want that happening to Ansboro.

    Back three: Very short on options here. Lee Jones gets a first cap with R Lamont at Fullback and......Well Danielli I suppose is the only other option.

    But what confuses me most John is your game plan!

    Why are we trying to play a forward dominated game with kicking!?!

    Lets spread the ball and start scoring. We have talent out wide but it is just getting ignored. Get Jones running and into the game and Lamont coming in from fullback.

    Case in point with Edinburgh's game plan: Hit it up a couple of times and then get our speedy wingers running.


  • Comment number 11.

    Another great blog, John. I think your prediction of the team AR will pick is spot on but I wish he would pick Laidlaw at 10 with Weir on the bench. What more could any player to deserve to be picked?
    But if we do pick an attacking 10 we must still have a distributor at 12. But what options do we have? What about Phil Godman at 12? He has great hands, is a gutsy tackler and can run a bit, too. Brad Barritt might salivate at the thought of running him over but our outside backs would see the ball. Am I mad? Probably!

  • Comment number 12.

    John, that is such a depressing backline you've chosen. I'm disappointed like the others guys so far who've posted. It's such a 'safe' selection designed as Ross says to stop England winning but not so much to win. You yourself said in black and white up there - just like AR claims - 'You pick players on form (and Edinburgh dynamo Lee Jones is red hot right now).' Yes, quite, and so where do Parks, R Lamont and Barclay, to name three, come into the equation? Lee Jones is not the only red hot option. The Blair/Laidlaw combo for one is even more so! Rennie is excellent too. I was at the Edinburgh - London Scottish game and was immeasurably delighted by their performance. It's also been key to their HC wins. What MORE do they - especially Laidlaw - have to do????? If anything, he should start and the bench be kept warm by Parks. Parks' advantage apparently is his tactical kicking (not always reliable!). Is this something Laidlaw's can't do either?!

    Are you and AR simply waiting for these good guys to peak or something? We've got to think about the future and so put these guys in and look like we're building teams that are going to go out and win.

    My nightmare scenario is AR will go with Cusiter + Parks with Godman on the bench. Danielli will get picked ahead of Jones. S Lamont will get slotted into a position that encourages him to just run into people rather than pass. R Lamont will be on so he can do himself an injury. I think I might just burst into tears of utter frustration if that's the selection for the backs.

    On the other hand a backs selection that includes Blair/Laidlaw, Jones and Hogg might just go somewhere with S Lamont and NDL and Evans. At least while we wait for McVisser.

  • Comment number 13.

    Is everyone forgetting Rory Lawson at 9? If Parks starts at 10 it sends the wrong message - Laidlaw's kicking game has been very good for Edinburgh this year, much better than Godman has shown when he has come on that's for sure.

    Would be surprised if S Lamont starts at 12. Think Robinson will give that to tried and trusted Graeme Morrison. De Luca has been in excellent form for Edinburgh at 13 and despite my past reservations about him, it looks like he should start there.

    Lee Jones has been good for Edinburgh but made an absolute howler against Glasgow and doesn't look too trustworthy in defence. If Morrison starts at 12 and De Luca at 13, the wingers will surely be S Lamont and Ansbro.

    Max Evans is good but all too often gives away penalties for holding on as he isn't big enough to stay on his feet for long enough to allow support to get with him. And as for the 7 debate, Ross Rennie should win it hands down.

  • Comment number 14.


    Yes I think that everyone is forgetting about Lawson as Cusiter and Blair are both playing bettter than him and Laidlaw would be a better option also.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi John - always an interesting blog. Andy Robinson (the RFU Sleeper) has been activated and has followed his instructions to insult the English (Don't expect Armitage to play at Murrayfield so the plan may not work!)

    I really hope hope that Dan Parks does play - he really is the most inept outside half to wear a Scotland shirt in the last 30 years+. He offers no threat - just clears his line. I think it will be a close game, the Scottish pack is a good unit and will provide plenty of ball but can Parks use it? If England stay composed in the first 20 minutes, they should have enough to win a tight game. However, if things go the 'sweats' way in the first 20... it could be a bit of a spanking for the 'arrogant English'

  • Comment number 16.

    This is all very interesting but surely Scotland should be concentrating all of their resources on their big match of the season?

    Against Italy.

  • Comment number 17.

    Robinson must not play Parks. we will never play well with him playing. laidlaw has been fantastic in the HC this year - keeping more experienced players out of the team. He must start. Weir on the bench if y want a tactical kicker of Parks if you must .

    If parks starts I predict booing and Robinson will lose the confidence of the fans.

    With Parks we will struggle in the 6N and Robinson will have to go.

    Tis better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at at all

  • Comment number 18.

    Scotland scored an average of 16 points per game last 6N - England averaged a stodgy 26. God help the Scots if England go on a diet.

  • Comment number 19.

    R. Lamont; Evans, S. Lamont, Ansboro, Danielli; Laidlaw, Blair; Jacobsen, Ford, Murray, Gray, Kellock, Strokosh, Denton, Barclay. (Subs. Jackson, R. Lawson, Cross, Hamilton, Rennie, + two others)

    England have historically targetted the Scotland mid-field because we have so few International standard centres. Sean Lamont and Ansboro were good in defence and attack in the RWC and are my answer to the problem.

    All countries now know that Dan Parks is not prepared to tackle; so if Jackson is not Andy Robinson's first pick (assuming he is fit) he should be sub.

    And please Andy, don't sub your best players with 10 minutes to go. Players in the pro era can last 80 mins. plus injury time. I think we lost the last game at Twickenham and the match against Argentina in the RWC due to unnecessary substitutions in the final minutes.

    This week we also have 16 players - counting in the Murrayfield crowd!

  • Comment number 20.

    If it were the England XV from the WC then I would give Scotland the advantage as they ran England very close and were unlucky not to win. With a new look England squad however it is less predictable and could mean a bigger winning margin to either team.

    Scotland have the advantage of having played together as a team and could catch a scratch England side cold over the full 80. Scotland just have to believe in themselves and not give up if England manage to score a few breakaway tries through the quick backs.

    Key to Scotland achieving a win will be the front 5 in winning a good % of possession and then using Parks to keep the territorial advantage in Scotland's favour. I would give Scotland the edge in the Back Row, even with Brown injured. The back 3 I would give to England for pace and attack and Scotland need to be wary in defence.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why is anyone giving Parks the international time of day? The guy can't tackle, can't run the ball, can't even get a backline full of talent at the blues firing on all cylinders so why give him the 10 jersey? To win test matches we have to score tries aswell kick our goals, without Mossy to do that job we have to have a 10 that will do both meaning we have to go with either Weir or Laidlaw both playing brilliant rugby and scoring points will also set us up going forward with a young 10 over an ageing very flawed Parks. My starting fifteen would have to be.. Chunk, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Barclay, Denton, Cusiter, Weir, De Luca, Ansbro, S.Lamont, Evans, R. Lamont.
    Players playing well at club level playing for the national side. In the front row Cross has always done a job, Murray can't play sunday so why let him have exclusivity on the shirt? Ford and Chunk are ever present bodies on the line for the shirt. the second row choices can carry ball breaking the gainline, win lineout ball and both good defenders. Our back row unit whichever is chosen will compete with the best they are all good rugby players. Cusiter is the best all round 9 Scotland has does everything right and does it well. Weir is blossoming into something good at glasgow. De Luca is playing well and should be given the opportunity. Back 3 Lamont S. is a winger and is most destructive playing from the wing thats where most of his destructive line breaks have come from and his brother Rory looked impressive at 15 for glasgow at bath last weekend and is someone who has talent in abudance.

  • Comment number 22.

    I cannot believe AR would even consider Parks at 10! If this is the selection, trying to out muscle the opposition and rely on tactical kicking, I predict another scrape to avoid the wooden spoon. Two six nations wins out of ten, we can't continue playing as we have done previously, it's time to change the record. What have he got to lose by bringing in Laidlaw? If AR does not have the bottle to use form players this should be his last Six Nations. I agree with JPS above, I would much rather lose trying to play rugby than win in another awful penalty shoot out. Just compare how Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh play, I know who I prefer watching. Anyway enough moaning, good luck lads, I'll be shouting from behind the couch as usual.

  • Comment number 23.

    A number of resons for concern, not just with this/the likely selection but with replacements also. Front five almost picks itself. Murray will play becauseof his reputation as a scrummager and he did give England a hard time at the WC, although Cross is exceptionally dynamic and has improved as a scrummager in recent times. However who is going to be the replacement prop/hooker. Well going by history he'll pick Dickinson (oh dear!) to cover the either/or option, but most likely to replace AJ at around 60 minutes. He'll also pick Lawson as substitute hooker who is an excellent lineout thrower and as dynamic in the loose as Ford but will weaken the scrum significantly especially when combined with Dickinson. Personally I wouldn't pick Murray at all - he's playing in a poor Newcastle team and not sure how AR can justify selection. Mine would be the Edinburgh front row and depending on who AR was thinking of substituting, either Ed Kalman or Ryan Grant on the bench (I know... Grant's not in the squad but I like the look of him!)

    Second row has to be Gray and Hamilton. Barring injuries Gray will have that position sown up for the next 10 years and for all those knocking Hamilton, his game has several new dimensions this season. The combination also makes our scrum a much more rigid proposition. Back row was going to prove a headache because of the numerous options, lessened slightly by the big loss of KB but on current form it has to be Denton (the first name on my team sheet) who has been in stunning form this year; Harley (in point of fact I'd pick Mcinally but alas he's also not in the squad) and Barclay (for the record neither he nor Rennie are in the best form - again for me Roddy Grant is the best real 7 but he's quite a small guy so rarely gets included by AR. The bench will include Kellock and Strokosch for my money.

    With that sort of pack AR must be confident enough to be a bit adventurous in the backs. If Parks plays I'll literally cry my eyes out - I'm less concerned about SH but agree Laidlaw is the man at FH - Weir has been in good form, kicks well but you'd have to say looking at Glasgow this season is unlikely to release any potential outside him - although in fairness with Morrison at 12 I think Dan Carter would struggle! Due to their good combination this season I would go for Blair and Laidlaw but I'm not Andy Robinson.

    I like others am keen to see a different syle of centre play than hammer it up, go to ground and reset slow ball, but given the aforementioned issues with Anbro and NDL are there many more options. For me Matt Scott should be in the squad and play, in which case I'd play NDL 12 and him 13, but - despite people's concerns - I hope it is NDL 12 and Ansbro 13 - either S Lamont or Morrison leaves 13 a spectator and a one dimensional easy to read game plan.

    The back three makes me chuckle - everyone includes one or both Lamonts I'd I wouldn't include either. Sean has not been playing for the Scarlets and his bash it up, can't pass/won't pass style of play is predictably not suited to a gifted running Scarlets side. Rory is good under the high ball yes - and definitely better than Hogg in that regard but from what I've seen of him this year he's looked stodgy and clueless in attack. If we're thinking of being positive and attack minded let's play Hogg whose runs from fullback this year put me in mind of Glenn Metcalfe. If people can cast their mind back to when we last won the Championship you'll know who I mean. Max Evans is not getting regular starts at Castres still hasn't scored a try for them and was outpaced over the length of the field recently by a flanker - Shingler brother, so again why should he start. For me it should be Lee Jones and ... whoops no one else left to choose from so might have to be S Lamont after all - he's a much better wing than centre at least.

    Well there you have it - a strong pack with a sprinkling of new players and an adventurous attack-minded back line full of potential. Although I'll eat the proverbial hat if Hogg and Jones are in the team and despite their brilliance this season one suspects AR will contrive to leave out Denton and Cross... here's to another annoyingly frustrating campaign the only highlight being a narrow loss to the Grand Slam winners Italy!!!!!

    Well I'm allowed one's no less unlikely than Scotland.

  • Comment number 24.

    Think that Robinson will go for a combination of experience and brawn in this opening encounter. My team is as follows:

    1. Jacobsen
    2. Ford
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. Hamilton
    6. Strokosch
    7. Barclay
    8. Denton
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. S. Lamont
    12. De Luca
    13. Ansbro
    14. Evans
    15. R. Lamont

    A very strong Edinburgh feel to this side- I feel that Robinson should pick on form. I don't know why, John, you were so quick to dismiss the Blair/Laidlaw combination that has worked so well for the Heineken Cup quarter-finalists. Evans gets the nod over Jones for his ability to beat the first man.

  • Comment number 25.

    John you are genuinely my favourite writer on BBC - always fair and loyal to your team without ever being biased - all this from an Englishman! For the record, very nervous about next week - think Scotland should be the more settled and confident team and could see sean lamont could running over Hodgson! However, if we do manage to scrape a win, then think this, along with some of our injured players coming back, could make us contenders. Best of luck.

  • Comment number 26.

    At the end of World and European Championship Sections for Scotlands odd shaped balled men and the more common species with rounder balls the strain of testicular cancer "inglorious failure" refuses to respond to treatment n Scotland.

    Why ?

    There is a common cause I would suggest in both pieces of inglory. Coaching. The Bus Drivers of our two bigger balled sports are at best stuck on the hard shoulder of the motorway but more likely are over the central reservation heading north on the southbound.

    Take the Rugby first.

    Selection, there has to be five players at least in the squad every Hamish Jock and Moira would have written to saying its okay if your passport isnt utd. To compoundly fracture, these guys then appear in the team and make the same mistakes they have had four years to practice not making.

    Tactics. Rugby is an odd game from the ball to the rules. Its odd that you get the chance to get the ball back from sticking it out of play for example. The game is almost at the stage of being unwatchable ( it is there already for me) and is basically human dodgems. Great articulated juggernauts on grass jacknifing into each other at a rate per min. Eventually the police arrive on the scene and sort out the accident by inviting over half the smashed up vehicles to come together in another mess to TRY to get the traffic flowing again. Crouch pause engage the policeman commands we can sort this out in five minues - maybe ?

    The wonderfully named points scoring vehicle in rugby TRY. TRY to score a TRY what a word and what a glorious sight and feeling for anyone that has ever snorted that white line on the rugby field. The French even include a guy with that surname in their team, we dont even TRY to deal in the white stuff it appears to the naked eye. If I can indulge and turn back the carriage clock that awaits me in 2 years time and go back the 43 that have elapsed to a sea harred saturday morning that was visiting St Andrews in Fife and relive the glory of a hat-trick of tries (personal). Station Park St Andrews the playing fields of Madras College , a sage would say there is no longer a station in St Andrews and no longer a Madras in India, but the relevance of these three TRIES or TRYS is the same as today.

    Coach think thus that when that man like a little boy at the fair drops the ice cream cone that was in his hands and the auld enemies white line was his oyster it is better to try, try and try again than stik three useless points thru the posts. Do the maths three white liners converts to the opp needing seven through the posts to get to egalite as en france appear to comprendais.

    Whoever the National Coach Driver might be please realise we drive smaller juggernauts on our roads in Gods Country and TRY Will O'Thewisp in our Threequarters to Come Strictly Dancing through the happened accidents.

    As another tournament orgasms we have made our excuses and left, behind on this occasion WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

    The cases are packed but mine is rested.

  • Comment number 27.

    1. Jacobson
    2. Ford
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. Kellock
    6. Harley
    7. Rennie
    8. Barclay
    9. Cusiter
    10. Wier
    11. Lamont
    12. Jackson
    13. De Luca
    14. Evans
    15. Hogg

    16. Hall
    17. Kalman
    18. Ryder
    19. Strokosh
    20. Blair
    21. Laid law
    22. Hogg

    No Parks!!!!!!!!

    Weir / Laidlaw is a close one to call, Cusiter is ahead of Blair. As for the centers let's try something different once Jackson is fit again and get some real distribution in the centers and let the wings play and get the try count up. Also Hamilton only adds bulk nothing else if we want to play with speed he needs to be replaced. Lastly Euan Murray won't play Sunday's so get in guys that will play when ever Scotland call.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wondering how so many folk are banging on about Edinburgh's HC form yet we haven't pointed out there poor league showing. Let's not get carried away Edinburgh are doing us proud in the but are a long way from the finished article or the solution to all of Scotland's problems. Glasgow going well in the league although not qualified for HC had some good showings. We need to look at both teams approaches and mix the two of them into something that will work for Scotland.

  • Comment number 29.

    Yeah The six nations has come round again and lots of the no 10 questions rear their annual heads again. John i want to know is what is the name of your band? ... as no matter what we write we can't change the outcome, although it's very interesting, we could all have a grand night out in the Burgh giving you a we bit of support if we don't win and have a grand night out if we do. So come on John, where are you playing? Oh and come on Scotland!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    John I do understand what you say about Cusiter & Parks, but they are our elements of stodginess & predictability (along with Morrison). If Robinson REALLY wants to score more tries, he'll go with the flair pair at 9/10; if he wants to out-England England, he'll go with Cuss & Parks. Play like Edinburgh or play like Glasgow? (I know we've exchanged views on this before- maybe Robinson is a closet Weegie:-)) If you go on form, NDL should have a good shout for 13 & I worry about R Lamont after some of his recent performances for the Warriors but not many real options there.

  • Comment number 31.

    To be honest I'm really not sure about this game, part of me feels that home advantage will play a huge part and that Scotland will frustrate an inexperienced England team, but my experience of a young team is that they sometimes play without fear if this England team turn up then I can see England winning well.

    Oh how I love the 6 Nations.

    I do hope the BBC know what a great competition this is, I hope and pray that the Beeb never lose the rights to Sky as that would deny the public the chance to watch this great annual drama unfold.

  • Comment number 32.

    Scotland team to play England
    1 chunk
    2 Ford
    4 Gray
    5 Kellock
    6 Stroks
    7 Rennie
    8 Denton
    9 Cusiter
    10 Laidlaw
    11 Lamont s
    12 De luca
    13 Ansbro
    14 Evans
    15 Lamont R

    No Parks please. No closer to the pitch than the bench ! Just watched the 6N Scrum V special on BBC 2 Wales where Graeme Morrison got a real slaggin from Gwyn Jones. And I quote ´´he's a real Cart horse´´.
    Right then, off to bedy byes so I can catch the 06:30 flight from Bremen to Edinburgh in the morning for the Calcutta cup match. CMon you Jocks !!.

  • Comment number 33.

    Good blog john. For what its worth here's my tuppence worth. Laidlaw, rennie and denton HAVE to play. The former can unlock our strong runners and the later two are the form Scottish back rows. I agree with your tight five, but the shear size of the that unit may allow barclay to be deployed at 6, thus giving us the chance of more quick ball, which ultimately will help us score tries. Denton to play 8, although an in form beattie would still be my pick here, he is an 'x factor' player and i wish him a speedy return to the form of a year ago.

    Has evans been playing for castres? If not he surely cant be in contention, i would have lamont on one wing and jones on the other.Danielli butchers far too many chances to be given another go and jones looks to have real potential.De luca at 12 again to try and unlock the back division, i feel he is getting more suited to international rugby with every appearance, morrison is a great servant but can really only play one way.

  • Comment number 34.

    Good blog John, much much better than the last.

    I like the look of your team, and as an English fan I can see the danger in the team. However I think England will hav the edge. Scotland in recent years have really struggled to score tries, and Dan Parks is on the decline. Aslong as England front up, which I think they will, they will take home the big W.

    Eitherway going to be a cracking match, can't wait!

  • Comment number 35.

    I see we're into the usual Parks bashing. When a better 10 really puts their hand up, he's history. But the sad fact is no one really has. That includes Laidlaw, who for sure shows promise, but winning against a really poor London Irish is miles away from being a 6N starter.

    And the criticism of Cusiter for taking too many steps . . . the king of the art is Blair, who has to, as he then delivers the weakest, loopiest pass in the Rabo, never mind the 6N. Blair is a brave, could have been world class, flanker in a scrum half body. Frankly he shouldn't be in the squad. Cusiter, Lawson and Laidlaw are all far better scrummies.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with above who mentions Edinburgh's poor league form. They attack and move the ball well as a side but we seem to be forgetting that they qualified from a poor Heineken group. A combination of Glasgow's strong defence and ability to grind out wins with Edinburgh's flair and attacking prowess would in my opinion lead to the best results.

    My team is:

    1 Jacobsen
    2 Ford
    3 Murray
    4 Gray
    5 Hamilton
    6 Harley
    7 Barclay
    8 Denton
    9 Cusiter
    10 Laidlaw
    11 S. Lamont
    12 De Luca
    13 Hogg (where he has been playing a lot for glasgow, and lineen sees him playing)
    14 Jones
    15 R. Lamont

    16 Lawson
    17 Cross
    18 Kellock
    19 Rennie
    20 Blair
    21 Weir
    22 Evans

    I would actually like to see Jackson play 12, but with his injuries and being kept out the Glasgow team by weir, this isn't the year.

    Regardless, I believe Scotland have a reasonable shout at the championship this year if team selection is brave. However Parks is a step backwards as we should be looking at the next few year as a chance to build for the future.

    Excited for the 6N in general!!

  • Comment number 37.

    Scotland shouldn't try and play like Edinburgh, or like Glasgow. They need to find their own way of playing, relying on their stregnths. Also it might help if they find a way to score some tries!

  • Comment number 38.

    I thought we were meant to be supporting the squad not slating them. It is very easy for people to criticise individual players from behind a computer screen. You were supposed to be picking your team not tearing individual players apart.

  • Comment number 39.

    1.) Jacobsen
    2.) Ford
    3.) Murray
    4.) Gray
    5.) Hamilton/Kellock
    6.) Denton
    7.) Barclay
    8.) Denton
    9.) Blair
    10.) Laidlaw
    11.) L.Jones (My cousin is friends with him)
    12.) S.Lamont
    13.) Ansbro
    14.) M.Evans
    15.) R.Lamont

    Can't wait for it, absoloutly buzzing for it, COME ON SCOTLAND!!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    As a Welshman i dont watch much Scottish rugby, but what i do know is if you dont stop playing this forward orientated rugby- ( which no offence your not any good at)
    you wont move forward and you wont win more than the odd game. As the the scottish team its time youd try something so this would by my scotish 22:

    1. Dickinson
    2. Ford (c)
    3. E Murray
    4. Hamilton
    5. Gray
    6. Strockosh (oh my god you need to find a 6)
    7. Barcaly
    8. Denton
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    12. De luca
    13. Evans
    14. R Lamont
    15. Hogg

    16. S Lawson
    17. G Cross
    18. McKenzie
    19. Vernon
    20. Lawson
    21. Weir
    22. Ansbro

    I really hope u scots smash the english, and i hope u do throw it around, make for a fantastic spectacle

  • Comment number 41.

    @39 I love your reason for including Jones!

  • Comment number 42.

    @40 Evan: Interesting to hear from a Welshman on how to play rugby. How many games did you lose in the World Cup? But you are right, a forward orientated game never won anyone anything. Which is why the All Blacks didnt revert to it in the final.........oh no wait they did.

  • Comment number 43.

    Great blog and really enjoyed reading all comments. Suppose a lot of it comes down to what we've seen recently. Not going to comment on whole team, but a few observations. Firstly, Laidlaw has got to be in, not just on the basis of one good performance as one commentator rather unkindly suggested, but because he's been consistently good for the last couple of seasons now. In my view he's really unfortunate not already to be have been picked more often. I would probably have him at 10, with either Blair or Cusiter at 9 - haven't seen much of Cusiter this season so don't know how he's currently playing, but unlike others I'm not so convinced about Blair. Laidlaw also HAS to be in for his place kicking, which generally has been excellent. To echo others, please, please no Parks!
    Agree with comment about using players on form - does that not rule out John Barclay? Personally I much prefer Rob Harley. Denton has to be in, possibly as 8, but it's a shame that we don't seem to have an obvious specialist in this position at the moment.
    Using Morrison at 12 would be another retrograde step - is he really playing well for Glasgow? - Lamont has done well when playing there for Scotland, even if out of position. Agree with other supportive comments about Matt Scott, but it's probably too early for him yet.
    In the past I would have said de Luca is a bit of a luxury, but this season he seems to have a much more competitive attitude, and has been an important part of the best parts of Edinburgh's backs' play, so probably deserves another go.
    I think full back is a real weakness - probably Rory Lamont is best choice but again I'm not sure if he's currently performing? Stuart Hogg certainly looks like great potential, but it would be a bit of a risk for his first cap.
    Anyway, c'mon Scotland!

  • Comment number 44.

    These are great comments - I would add that this is the team I think Andy Robinson will pick. I reckon Greig Laidlaw will get a run before the tournament is out and Nick de Luca and Graeme Morrison are players we need to see on the big pitch. Stuart Hogg and others are very close.

    As I write this I don't know the England team but the English need some experience as it's sometimes the least experienced players who have the biggest problem in these games.

  • Comment number 45.

    1) Alan Jacobsen
    2) Ross Ford
    3) Euan Murray
    4) Al Kellock
    5) Richie Gray
    6) David Denton
    7) Ross Rennie
    8) John Barclay

    9) Chris Cusiter
    10) Greig Laidlaw
    11) Lee Jones
    12) Sean Lamont
    13) NDL
    14) Max Evans
    15) Stuart Hogg

    16) John Welsh
    17) (personally I'd have Pat Mcarthur here) Scotty Lawson
    18) Jim Hamilton
    19) Rob Harley
    20) Duncan Weir
    21) Joe Ansbro
    22) Rory Lamont

    At 8, I'd probably prefer Denton to start and then play Barclay/Rennie left and right. However he hasn't really played 8 recently and Barclay had a STORMER against Bath by all accounts. John Beattie is the best 8 in the country, but something is clearly amiss as his form in recent games has drastically improved yet he's still not getting consistently picked.

    Cusiter for me is a no brainer. He outplayed Blair by a country mile across both legs of the 1872 cup game. Starting Cusiter would make me more inclined to start Weir as well to stick with the club combination, but I don't think Mr Robinson is brave enough to start him.. Even though he is a more complete player than Mr Farrell who seems to have a decent shot at playing for England.

    Lee Jones is on fire. Rory Lamont has been rather disappointing since he returned.

    Stuart Hogg is the form Full Back. He's outplayed Lamont by far. Typical Scottish Madness, it appears whenever Hogg/Weir play well they are rewarded by having Lamont/Jackson displace them.

    Big Al/Richie are the established partnership. They are also both far more athletic that Jim Hamilton. And far more disciplined.

  • Comment number 46.

    I hope England get well and truley smashed by a scottish team that are due to shine through at any time. Its only a matter of time before they find a back line that can finish off teams. They play ok rugby but lack quaility world class players, however due to Englands world cup woes, i still feel the players (including Englands the new selections) will feel to much pressure on them to acheive and win! Scotland in Murryfield in the opening game should give the scottish the edge.

  • Comment number 47.

    Normally I don't make predictions, but I'll make an exception this year. If Robinson picks the backs you propose, this will be his last 6 Nations in charge of Scotland.

    Blair, Parks and Lamont have had many opportunities to produce the goods and never have, so why stick with a losing combination, especially playing a wing who can't pass at inside centre and the man who is realistically third choice at 10?

    Cusiter is unquestionably in far better form than Blair, so it must be between him and Lawson, if Lawson's been playing well. Parks lost-out to Jackson, who I must admit to finding extremely disappointing, when he has been fit. His lack of awareness of what is going on around him, his poor decision making and poor execution all make him questionable at international level, but Robinson still prefers him to Parks, as did Sean Lineen. You cannot ignore that Glasgow have flourished without both of them.

    What you must not ignore is that we cannot score tries and Edinburgh have been scoring them by the bucket load. That, to me, confirms Laidlaw must start at 10. Then you do run into difficulties, but I believe de Luca is a man transformed this season, having performed well for both Edinburgh and Scotland. He wants to pay at inside centre and he offers more than Morrison in that position. He partnered Ansbro to score a well-worked try against Ireland in the World Cup warm-up, so they would be my centres, de Luca inside, Ansbro outside.

    Lee Jones' pace is undeniable and he seems able to finish when given an opportunity, but if Evans and Lamont are playing well enough for their team, I might be more inclined to stick with them. Neither can spot a pass any better than Stevie Wonder can, but they can cause havoc in the loose and I'm not sure if Jones can, yet.

    I understand the selection of Barclay, but don't necessarily support it. Denton is probably a shoe in at No 8, but Barclay's form has been mediocre for a while and Rennie made an impact when he replaced Barclay in the World Cup. I'm not at all sure I would pick Barclay at all, but wouldn't be too disappointed if he does start.

    It's half-back that is the key to improving our prospects of winning and I fully expect Robinson to make a complete horlicks of it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Lot's of interesting comments and a fair bit of tribalism being displayed in these comments. One of the interesting things is the number of people selecting players who are out injured or who are carrying knocks and the press have "leaked" that they won't be risked in the first two games.

    So on Saturday we won't see Jackson at 10 or on the bench or at 12 as some have suggested. He needs to get some games under his belt and I think the next time we see him play a game of rugby will either be on the bench for the A team to give him the last 20 mins or for Glasgow v Scarlets. Danielli is also as I understand it injured and has has very little game time with Ulster, so I don't think we'll see him in a match day squad.

    Our Welsh friend @40 obviously does not know that Fraz MacKenzie injured his arm/shoulder playing for Sale and Tom Ryder (a much underrated player in my opinion) has replaced him in the squad.

    For me the front row for this game picks itself, Chunk at LH, Ford at hooker and Murry at tighthead. Cross will be on the bench and his mobility will make an impact when he comes on mid second half. I think AR will go with Gray and Hamilton, but Hamilton's lack of mobility concerns me a little. However, our scrum seems to be better with Hamilton in it and this may be more important. Kellock played out his skin against Leinster, and if we knew he'd do the same against England then I'd put him in the starting XV just ahead of Hamilton - but this is sport and we don't know and we also don't know if he's recovered from the respiratory problem he had down at Bath.

    The backrow is the area that gives the biggest headache. Denton has impressed and is a ball carrier which is vital. However, he's been playing at 6 for Edinburgh, not 8. The inform 8 in Scottish rugby is not Scottish but Fijian! Vernon has not been getting regular game time down at Sale and when he has it has more than often been at 6, which is where at least one aspiring Dundonian rugby journalist thinks is his natural position. Rennie has more talent in his pinky than I have in my whole body but he's not nailed down the 7 shirt at Edinburgh, and Barclay is playing at 8 as Fusaro who is not in the Scotland squad is keeping him out at 7! I've never been that convinced by Strockosh, but AR seems to like his style of play so he may well start at 6. Harley, good as he is, needs to carry ball more if he wants to cut it at international level.

    Blair is more likely to crab across the field before passing than Cusiter is. Cusiter should start at 9 and if it were me I'd go with Laidlaw at 10.

    Like some others I'd have liked to see Matt Scott in the squad, but he's not. Is NDL injured? I know he butchered that pick up for a try at the World Cup, but he's been on song for Edinburgh. I'd have NDL start at 13, which leaves the problem area of 12. I think S Lamont will start at 12, but if Parks starts at 10 then you've got to go with Morrison. Lee Jones has to start, good feet, strong in the tackle and knows where the try line is. The other wing goes to who is carrying the least knocks and most confidence out of our other wings. I think R Lamont will be given FB jersey but Hogg has been the form 15 all season. Ok in their last few games Glasgow have move Hogg to 13, where he's not shown much yet. But at FB with space to run into he'd be a menace and combine will with the likes of Jones.

    1 Chunck, 2 Ford, 3 Murray, 4 Gray, 5 Hamilton, 6 Denton, 7 Rennie, 8 Barclay, 9 Cusiter, 10 Laidlaw, 11 Evans, 12 S Lamont, 13 NDL, 14 Jones, 15 Hogg. 16 Cross, 17 S Lawson, 18 Welsh, 19 Vernon 20 Blair, 21 Parks, 22 R Lamont.

  • Comment number 49.

    Englishman in peace.

    I am a bit gloomy about this, can quite easily see Scotland running riot and putting 30 on England. A decent(ish) England team were very fortunate to beat Scotland in NZ and now with a powder-puff front 5 and lots of new boys in the side and with Hodgson ( Dear Lord, please not Hodgson ) the famed fearless tackler inked in as well I am really struggling to make a case for my own team.

  • Comment number 50.

    I always dread the England trips to Murrayfield and can't think of a location more adverse to English success, with the possible exception of any stadium/bar/ferry in New Zealand.

    Typically the Calcutta Cup goes to the home side, with a slight advantage to England with the draw a couple of years back. So it will really be a baptism of fire for the England newbies and given the strong showing by Scottish players in domestic competition and the injuries to key players in the England squad it only adds to my sense of pessimism.

    Put simply I can't see passed a Scotland win on Saturday with an early finish to any grand slam hopes we had.

  • Comment number 51.

    Whilst Scotland have a very strong pack the back line options look very weak. I would agree with many on here that to win, Scotland will have to keep the score low and frustrate England, keeping the ball in the scrum and preventing England getting it outwide where the likes of Ashton & Foden could really do damage.

    Unfortunately for Scotland the forecast is dry and cool, and I think this bodes ill.

    I don't think Scotland's pack will be dominant enough, missing Brown and Kellock, to tilt the balance and if England do gell and are able to move the ball quickly it might be a long day for Scotland

    Time to get the raindance out perhaps John?

  • Comment number 52.

    We the Scots are noted for having a very quick and tough loose forwards,
    Who time after time have beaten the opposition, by getting to the ball. So pick the best loose forwards, who can do that as a trio.

    As far as the backs are concerned, yes get rid of Parks he is only good for his kicking and Scotland need tries and a bit of flare at 10, not kick, Kick and sometimes pass. I sometimes wonder if whoever plays at 12 ever knows if he is going to get the ball.

    On NDL, yes he's ok at club level, but time after time he plays for Scotland, he becomes like a rabbit in the headlight. - look a RWC he fails to score from a few yards. Numerous occasions he drops a pass because he's to busy watching the player and not the ball. .... Please don't pick him. Morrison and Amsbro for me at 12 and 13.

  • Comment number 53.

    If Parks is starting I think it is time for AR to go -

    his selections at the world cup were the reasons we had our worst ever world cup - it was on his shoulders

    Parks - Morrison has shown for 5 years that it does not work - time to move on. Morrison may be selected by default as no real options - but Parks should not be -

    This is the year to finally start picking on form, maybe we will lose the game, but we have to look to start trying to win, not trying to not lose

    You pack looks ok, but I think you backs are taking us backwards by 10 years -

    Cusiter, - in poor form
    Parks, - terrible terrible player - is not international class - and is not the future
    Evans, - really - has he been paying recently
    Lamont, - ok
    Ansboro, - has been injured
    Jones - yes
    and Lamont - not the best 15 we have

    NDL has been playing well - maybe give him a chance with some fast ball

    Just to re-state my point - If Parks is picked to start I will start a petition to get AR removed as he will be imo not fit for purpose - that is how strongly I feel about this

  • Comment number 54.

    1 chunk
    2 ford - though i'd prefer s lawson for his more consistent throws
    3 murray
    4 hamilton
    5 gray
    6 strokosch - would have chosen brown
    7 barclay
    8 denton
    9 lawson - the other two 9s are good but very much overrated. Lawson is streets ahead in terms of service, box kicks, decision making and leadership. I'd also make him captain (never lost as captain)
    10 laidlaw
    11 jones
    12 ansbro - not played for a month but was starting all season at 13. Ideally I'd like to see shingler/ansbro pairing but that can't happen yet. I agree matt scott should be in the squad.
    13 evans - I can assure everyone that he has been starting for castre - every game bar one in the top 14 since returning from the world cup. On the wing and out side centre. And for anyone who doubts his pace I suggest you check out the footage of the aforementioned shingler scarlets try and make your own mind up. Just search 'shingler castre try' or ' shingler the burglar' - evans to my mind shows great commitment and pace in the chase.
    14 s lamont
    15 r lamont - I want to see r lamont given a run in the team

    Subs: cross, s lawson, kellock, rennie, cusiter, weir, hogg

    A few of the players in the squad are lucky to be there.

    Also, err, hasn't leigh halfpenny replaced parks as goal kicker for the blues, john? Any comment on that? Anyone told andy robinson?

  • Comment number 55.

    There is some relief from the usual England and Wales 'top stories' that the EBC tend to favour however, Edinburgh fans tend to dominate John Beattie's blogs.
    In the past I've come across attitudes that are far too 'up the bottom' of themselves/Edinburgh to get a logical response but here goes:

    I notice some people getting ahead of themselves when it comes to Edinburgh's recent success, what Edinburgh fans have to realise is that Edinburgh had a ridiculously easy route therefore shouldn't get ahead of themselves with selection wishes for Scotland.

    One thing I will plead, do not play Godman, I hope people do not have such a short memory, even if you're an Edinburgh fan, if you have to ask why then you do indeed have a short memory.

    So what is so wrong with Parks? Parks has kept Scotland alive on many occasions, yes his play is stifled when it comes to prowess but don't blame him alone for Scotland's problems for not crossing the try line. After all, his kicking for for touch is well above average. How the other players convert that opportunity is up to them.
    What about Duncan Weir? He has not been mention yet. Seriously, this guy has no fear and has been excellent for Glasgow. Again, look at the statistics.

    I don't really get why De Luca is being favoured so often. My personal opinion is that if you want a guy to throw loose passes, be stagnant then be binned then go ahead and choose him. If not, don't. The guy could be a blood relative of Hines.

  • Comment number 56.


    Don't hold back their sir, tell us what you really think!

  • Comment number 57.

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

    So what your saying ins ... We Scots like to believe that England's weaknesses are a combination of arrogance and arrogance.

    Nice way of sugar coating it!

    I predict Scotland to win this game. I would be shocked if they dont.

  • Comment number 58.

    49. You say that Hodgson is a weak tackler yet evidently have not watched him this season. His defense has improved under the watchful eye of Paul Gustard.

    Scotland will likely have a more powerful front five than England. Scotland need to make their experience in this area count. Scotland need to bully England's pack then the opportunities will follow.

    How will Scotland play?

    The England side as a unknown quantity can be a positive because Scotland won't know how England will play. England can exploit this. It is likely Scotland will be up against a Saracens 10,12 and 13 who all know each other (possibly 11 too and a 14 who will be joining next season). Their approach will be pivotal to how England attack.

    There is talk of an inexperienced new look England side but a backline of:


    This backline will have familiarity. A mix of club combos and international experience.

    Scotland could exploit Farrell though because 13 doesn't really suit him.

    I personally think Scotland should definitely not pick Parks. They need to look to the future.

    Another point is how will Scotland deal with being the favourites? All the pressure and expectation is on Scotland. Robinson needs a win against the auld enemy if not his role will definitely be questioned.

    There is talk about how great Edinburgh have played yet neither them or Glasgow faced any of the stronger English sides in the Heineken Cup. Will this have any impact?

  • Comment number 59.

    I think number 37 comment sums it up very well. Scotland should not be aiming to play like Edinburgh or Glasgow. It should be aiming to have its own style created by the mix of our top players within these two sides. In other words, Scotland should be the ferocious forward force of Glasgow mixed with the cunning quick attitude of Edinburgh.

    It's worth remembering that both sides have their weaknesses. For all Edinburgh plays fast exciting rugby they are languishing at the bottom of the league. For all Glasgow plays hard hitting rugby they are languishing at the top (4th on a knife edge isn't good enough. They should be coming 1st or 2nd, or securing their position).

    Scotland's squad choice against England should aim to be a bold decisive one and not reliant on the same players used in the World Cup. As I see it, what Robinson picks will very much determine whether we win our first game. If he maintains the status quo and uses Parks et al, we will lose. If he takes a bold move and uses Laidlaw or Weir instead, we are more likely to win.

    This season should be about taking bold decisions. If he fails too, then Scotland is guaranteed to fail again and Robinson will be finished.

    And to put it bluntly, we simply cannot rely on the kicking game any more. The opposition expects it. It's time for a change.

  • Comment number 60.

    Opened the Six Nations preview in the Scotland on Sunday yesterday to be confronted with the most depressing sentence I've ever read:

    'the scots look equipped to go back to basics with a big pack, a kicking stand off in dan parks and a game plan involving a strong set-piece game.'

    As if this has ever won us anything in the past...

  • Comment number 61.

    The problem with AR is that he puts all the emphasis on how best to stop the opposition rather than on imposing the team as an attacking force.
    Maybe this is just pragmatic given the paucity of talent at his disposal.
    Laidlaw must be given a chance at 10 but I can't see the overly-cautious AR handing him a start in the Six Nations opener.
    Jackson isn't fit. Weir and Godman are nowhere near good enough.
    So who does that leave? Mr Parks, I'm afriad.
    I reckon JB is just about spot on with his team prediction and that has me worried...

  • Comment number 62.

    Interesting selection John but as a few have said your backline is somewhat stilted and not really looking to utilse most of the new bloods we have coming through. You may be right in that it might be what AR goes for but in several instances I really hope not!

    At 9 I am happy with any one of the three experienced options we have they are all good players in their own right and it is just down to personal preference which you pick. Most are going with Blair as he's the regular partner for Laidlaw who I think has been instrumental in Edinburgh scoring so much as they have (well him and Visser). I'd even say I'd be happy with Laidlaw at 9 but it's a case of strengthening the weakest position first so I'd have hime at 10.

    You can't state you wish to pick on form to choose Jones and then pick Parks and Morrison in the backline. Morrison is a great defensive centre but we all know he offers little in distribution and combined with Parks it totally strangles the rest of the back line. With Parks I will note a couple of points firstly he's playing in a Cariff team struggling to score tries (the reason they didn't get top of their group in the HK after all) this despite having a very good array of international players who can and do score freely at that level. Secondly with people that point to Edinburgh qualifying from a weak HK group, well they qualified over Parks' Cardiff so again puts that into a perspective when selecting your 10. I haven't watched enough of Weir to make a call but in the 1872 game at Murrayfield he certainly didn't outplay Laidlaw and in fact Glasgow didn't really come into it until they'd replaced him with Jackson.

    12 is the real problem position no real definitive player here that plays regular in this position. Morrison is out of sorts and as previously stated is more a defensive wall that incisive scalpel that will cut through the opposition. S. Lamont has played here before for Scotland despite not much club experience there, better running but positionally worse than Morrison possibly due to the lack of familiarity in the position. He can offload from here but it really is a more of a pop pass to someone on the shoulder after taking the ball up than ever making a pass that's further than 5 ft away. NDL can play at 12 but needs a distrubuting 10 to give him a chance, if you use Parks don't play him here he'll be eaten up by the english back row as he'll try to create something out of nothing from the slow service. As a wildcard though why not try Weir in here? He certainly appear to have the stocky frame to stand up to the more physical nature at 12, maybe Glasgow fans could tell more about his tackling and defense as to if it could stand up to it. Also would give us a better distribution and 2nd kicking option.

    Personally my backline would go on the lines of this

    9. Blair (club partnership giving the edge)
    10. Laidlaw
    11. S Lamont
    12. NDL
    13. Max Evans (Ansbro struggling with injuries)
    14. Jones
    15. Hogg

    That to my mind is the form players getting into the team along with some experienced head to guide the new blood. Weir would be on the bench as a tactical change and cover 10/12 with Laidlaw operating as the 9 cover. QWe can then have places on the bench for Ansbro & R Lamont to come on later in the game as well.

  • Comment number 63.

    Having shared my own thoughts on what team I think should be picked earlier, I suspect Robinson might be considering Laidlaw at 9 and Weir at 10, which is why he overlooked Cusiter and Lawson as captain. I hope I'm wrong, especially as I still expect him to pick Lamont S at 12.

  • Comment number 64.

    Scotland could have a reasonable six natons this year with a good blend of youth and inexperience. wales are going to struggle to be at the ir best with jey injuries and the conditioning at the WC likely to take its toll on a few players, England are there for the taking in what will be a largely experimental and inexperienced tea,m, I think Ireland are being overated and will strugglwe, ditto france, so a mid-table spot for Scotland is not out of the question. COuld be the most competitive 6naions for years with 5 teams in it.

  • Comment number 65.

    15 - Foden
    14 - Ashton
    13 - Barritt
    12 - Farrel
    11 - Strettle
    10 - Hodgson
    9 - Youngs
    1 - Cole
    2 - Hartley
    3 - Corbisiero
    4 - Deacon
    5 - Palmer
    6 - Croft
    7 - Robshaw
    8 - Morgan

    This is the way I think Lancaster will go and I am hearing a lot from Welsh, Irish and French fans saying that England are no good and will be destroyed by all the teams except Italy, but with this team I think England will surprise a few people and put quite a few teams to the test. I personally think the Scotland team John has picked is a strong team and think that it will be a very close encounter with Scotland winning by a point or two! As an England fan I simply hope that we dont get embarrassed when we get beat and managed to keep the deficits to under 10 points!

  • Comment number 66.

    The 6 Nations after a World Cup is usually quite a hard one to pin down. Just look at 2008 Wales won the Grand Slam after being knocked out in the qualifying groups with nearly the exact same players that had failed only a few months before.

    Wales - Played some very attractive rugby to devestating effect when it came together however they still lost twice (3rd/4th play-off not counting) and had a close thing against Samoa. The retirement of Williams who was a talisman for so many years for them and the injuries to their front five along with those hovering over Priestland & Roberts means they are a team streched of resources.

    Ireland - Pretty much the same team as the WC however a lot of Irish fans seem concerned that they aren't bringing new talent through and that age might be catching up with them. The loss of O'Driscoll as well makes their teamsheet read like some is just missing from the backline.

    France - Well it's the usual isn't it they're just so French! Who knows what will happen with them. They've ditched the bonker Lievremont and look to have appointed a coach with pedigree in Saint-Andre. They were the unlucky losers in the WC final (despite being lucky to get there!) On paper I think they're down as the ones to watch for the tournament but as the saying goes 'Which France will turn up on the day?'

    Scotland - Desperately disappointing WC failing for the first time to get out of the qualifying group. Ran Argentina & England close right down to the last moments in both games. However the real failure in those games weren't the last minute defensive lapses it was the failure to capitilise on the possession and opportunities to score tries that really came back to haunt us. If Scotland can learn from this and introduce players that can take those chances then we could in theory 'Do a Wales'. If however we select pretty much the same guys that played in the WC it's doubtful and I'd expect a similar result to those that happened in NZ

    England are a complete mystery - New Coach, new players new approach? Not sure but be interesting to see if they really do try and move away from the previous style . They've certainly tried before but once it doesn't immediately work and the media get on the squads back they've returned to type and gone with the old heads. Maybe Lancaster will stick it out as he doesn't fear the sack as he's only temporary in the first instance so doesn't suffer from the same pressure to get results.

  • Comment number 67.

    Our usual pre-tournament thinking - (a) we can compete but (b) can we convert our chances? We managed to only score tries in one out of four games at the WC - think even the so called minnows managed better. If we could eradicate our white line fever we truly would be a good team - the building blocks are there, we just need to put them together properly!

  • Comment number 68.

    Now is the time to adopt the Welsh approach of getting in the new future match winning players. We need a new 10 and 9 partnership to default through to the next WC and be a reliable and dynamic unit.


    Parks out, Laidlaw/Weir in with the other on the bench. If it goes wrong against England Parks can come back to the bench for the next match (as an absoloute LAST resort) because he is a known quantity.

    But, we MUST get the backs sorted out. With points being scored the forwards will be buoyant and potentially devastating to any opposition (Ireland anyone?!). Hell even WALES who a few years ago did not have the most destructive front 3 but since the WC have managed to find form throughout the team and the backs scoring has nudged the forwards ahead with confidence.

    Now then....

    We know more or less what is available at 9, so with a good 10 there is certainly potential for some movement about the pitch. 12 is a tricky one, Morrison is very conservative and does not pass enough BUT he is generally solid and is a strong runner - I would contest that he is possibly a better pass than Lamont in that position though. Maybe with runners either side he can be moulded into a better all round player - but as is at least we know there is a degree of reliability. Which brings me to De Luca, who is a better prospect but needs more stability. This is where the work really needs done in the Scotland side.

    The rest of the backs are not too bad, I would like to see Jones play as I was studying with him at uni last year and really do think he has great ability which can only be enhanced by some international experience.

    Now to throw one into the mix....I realise he is not in the squad but Horne has to be a future feature for the backs surely? His natural talent has been obvious from 8 years old when I was in the same team as him for 5 years at HoF. Capable points scorer, good step and he has a good boot as well - really hope AR starts including him soon.


  • Comment number 69.

    Interesting reading what Graham Henry said about England today playing "A game based on fear" and the need to play a quick game and " concentrate on dominating the space beyond the ball carrier".

    Which I feel is what Scotland must do on Saturday. If this is to happen then Cusiter and Parks are not the answer at half back. I believe Parks can play a quick game as his pass and distribution can be very good but lacks the creativity and when the pressure is on reverts back to kicking. If we had a creative player at 12 it might be different. Same must be said about Jackson and maybe Weir. I must confess I havent seen loads of Glasgow games this season but from what I have seen there hasnt been a loads of tries. The opposite must be said from Edinburgh especially in the HC. Laidlaw keeps defenses guessing and is able to create tries which as has been publicly stated Scotland need to do. I think they way forward could be the majority of the pack from Glasgow and the backs from Edinburgh.

    A lot of people have been saying how we need to play in similar mould to Edinburgh the problem could be that we dont have a player like Talei! So much of the quick ball Edinburgh get is off the runs he makes. We need an out and out 8 someone to take the ball to them. We have people there with the skills and talent to be a quick tempo no8 like Talei in the shape of Beattie and Vernon but they need to find some consistant form.

    Also as I have said on a previous blog we like everyone else should be building towards the next world cup and with Parks being 33 we should be blooding new talent.

  • Comment number 70.

    I think John's team is pretty much spot on to what Robinson will pick. The only change I think he might make will be De Luca for Ansbro but that really is a toss up.

    Parks is a shoe in for this type of game. Andy Robinson will pick a team to beat England and if that means winning 12-9 then he will do it. Unfortunately for everyone paying through their noses to go and watch, it means watching yet another dour and boring game of rugby.

    Barclay is another certainty. Lucky to even be selected for the squad in my opinion as he looked like he was in New Zealand for a pay cheque and a trip and upon return has been kept out the number 7 jersey for Glasgow. Barclay is Andy Robinson's golden boy though and it would take a torn ACL or broken leg for him to drop him, even then I think Robinson would try and get him on the pitch on crutches.

    I think Scotland will win on Saturday but it will be far from pleasing on the eye.

  • Comment number 71.

    Ansbro's been sent home, so Evans can play at 13, with Jones on the wing.

  • Comment number 72.


  • Comment number 73.

    Ok - so the SRU have just confirmed that Ansbro will be returning to London Irish to recover from a back injury, but the positive news is that Denton has recovered from the hamstring issue he had.

    There is no mention of anyone being called up to replace Ansbro, and his injury might force AR's hand a little in his selction.

    As for our tactics - No. 1 has to be reclaiming, or at least competing at re-starts. A repeat of what happened at the WC would be disastrous. I also don't want to see speculative kicks for Foden to run onto and cut through our lines. I think of the England back players I fear Foden the most. If we're going to kick it has to be to turn their defence, but not so deep that Foden gets it with no pressure on him. It's a bit of a no brainer to say that we need quick ball, so accuracy at the ruck is important, but we need some unpredictability in this area as well well so we need to vary what we do with the ball when we get it.

  • Comment number 74.

    From an England fan's perspective the physical, disruptive game is exactly what I'm dreading from Scotland - moreso this season with one of the greenest England teams in memory heading north of the border.

    For you Scots shouting John down and calling for something a bit more expansive, I understand the sentiment but you're barking up the wrong tree: If I were you I'd be baying for Scotland to bring their superior power and experience to bear on what is likely to be a young and incohesive England side....sick as it makes me to say it, the usual Murrayfield Calcutta cup approach of invoking the spirit of Bannockburn and dragging the men in white into a zero-rugby arm wrestle is extremely likely to be enough for victory against a talented but naive England. Try to play fancy and expansive and you may find yourselves being out-fancied and expansive'd!!

    Luckily for you scots - and unluckily for us English - AR is an intelligent pragmatist and I expect a fired-up but one-dimensional Scotland to overcome England in a traditionally passion-filled, but stodgy and unspectacular Calcutta cup encounter...

  • Comment number 75.

    Largely agree with your selection John, but (yes I know it's been said before) Parks - seriously?!!
    Yes he has helped us to some extraordinary victories in the past and I appreciate that, but as previously mentioned, it is hugely contradictory to state that Jones should be picked on the basis of form and then to pick Parks ahead of Laidlaw, or Weir who are outscoring him in the HC and Pro12 respectively. I don't think he'll slot goals home til the cows come home any more effectively than the other two. Despite living in Aberdeen I've been to see Edinburgh play seven times this season. I've been inspired to repeatedly make the trip due to the exciting brand of rugby on display, with some fantastic results along the way. It's also been great to witness the growing crowds and the accompanying roar. This is what Scottish rugby needs. Give the fans what they want. We need to build momentum and move forward, not burst the bubble.
    I have been a supporter of AR, but if I see Parks to start at 10 I will feel massively deflated, and that much of what has come good of late is being overlooked and wasted.

  • Comment number 76.

    What worries me is how people are beginning to rule out England on both sides, an England with something to prove is far more dangerous. My fear is it could be a complete whitewash, need I remind you of what happened against the 'new look' French side under Marc Lievremont. This is why I think playing conservatively is not an option anymore, we have to throw our full force at this English side, ie pick Mike Blair and Laidlaw, and NOT Dan Parks, on form he is currently the third choice fly half, a luxury that we haven't had in years! I'd like to see the same style of play that Scotland employed against France last year (I know Parks was playing, but that had to be one of the only games he's helped to get a backline moving, otherwise he's just downright awful), except obviously the next step is to win, which I think we're capable of we just have to trust in the form players. Sadly, in the words of Brian Moore, Andy Robinson is a good coach, bad selector. I hope that Scott Johnson brings in better selection later this year but I have a feeling of dread about tomorrow that we're going to see the same old drab on the teamsheet as usual, when really we need something unusual.

  • Comment number 77.


    Must be a ploy to get people like me posting something.


    time to move on from what has been an unsuccessful experiment.

    we know what happens if he plays... a close match that we might or most likely might not win (world cup and most 6 nations matches).

    Everyone can see that!

    Laidlaw was almost flawless vs london irish, what more do we want?

    Robinson must show some courage and pick Laidlaw.

    If Parks is picked Robinson's reputation will be questioned by most scottish rugby supporters.

    clearly he has a fantastic kicking game, and he seems to control things pretty well but it just shows no ambition. Time to move on.

    its so obvious!!!


    not sure about the last winger, as long as its not PARKS!

  • Comment number 78.

    i believe this should be Scotland's team:
    1- Jacobsen
    2- Ford (C)
    3- Murray ( scrummage bulk)
    4- Gray
    5- Hamilton ( he is now the lightest 2nd row so cannot say for bulk! )
    6- Denton- where i see he has been playing for Edinburgh?
    7- Barclay- not huge options but he can be good
    8- this may sound stupid but i would bring in Beattie. he has not been in the greatest form but he is a match-winner, and i would rather have him in than Denton out of position or Vernon there- who has also not been playing but he gets picked?
    9- Blair/ Cusiter/ Lawson- really not bothered!
    10- Laidlaw- for sure.
    11- L. Jones
    12- NDL
    13- Evans
    14- S. Lamont- not a lot of options but he is a good ball carrier and could get at the English as opposed to Jones' trickery and slight on the opposite wing!
    15- Hogg/ R. Lamont- not too fussed. inexperience/ experience. not particularly strong here but Hogg has talent and Lamont is solid.

    don't want to see Parks/ Dickinson/ Morrison/ Lamont at ct./ Danielli/ Vernon/ Godman in the team. Parks on the bench for tactical kicking if we are winning/ need a change of tactics. also if Ansbro is out then a call up for Matt Scott? i have not included many Glasgow players and neither have many people, but this is because they play as a team and do not have outstanding talent bar Gray and Hogg who is perhaps too inexperience to start. Edinburgh have our front row, the impressive Denton, and Jones and Scott, also Visser soon!
    this would be my team for next year's ( looking forward ) 6 Nations. Jacobsen, Ford, Cross/ Murray, Gray, Ryder, Denton/ Brown, Barclay/ Harley/ Rennie, Beattie, Lawson/ Blair/ Cusiter, Laidlaw, Jones, NDL/ Matt Scott, Evans/ Ansbro, McVisser ( can't wait ), and Hogg. think this team has potential and if Beattie and Barclay gain form then we could push on. also if AR fails this campaign with same approach eg Parks and no tries then replaced. :)

  • Comment number 79.


    No offense but Scotland are the worst team in the 6 Nations. Their style of rugby at the world cup was the worst ive seen. Italy will beat Scotland with ease.

    I think the England Saxons would beat Scotland by 20+ points.
    It wont be a contest.

  • Comment number 80.


    I've looked the word "Distroyed" up in the dictionary, but can't find it.
    You woudn't be English would you?

  • Comment number 81.

    Robinson is in a difficult position. He is less than 3 years into the job, but has the monkey " failing to qualify for the WC quarters for the first time " as well as the poor results in the last two 6N on his back.

    He needs results ( wins) no matter how ugly and because of that I think he may leave out the young talent, and opt for safety first. Personally I would rather he were bold and picked the young ones in form, but then it's not my job on the line and another poor six nations will have the knives out.

  • Comment number 82.

    Whatever the nuances of selection are there are several areas of potential weakness for any Scotland team next Saturday
    1) Al Dickinson: He is not an international class prop. He is likely to be on the bench as Robinson appears to have bought the same nonsense that Hadden sprouted, namely that Dicko can play on both sides of the scrum. The one scrum he took part in as a tighthead against Argentina in New Zealand should have disabused him of this lie, but apparently not.

    2) I dont see Ford as captain material. Not only will he need to talk to the team but also the ref. I fear this may disrupt his game, particulalry at the lineout.

    3) Eaun Murray is playing as part of a soon to be relegted side, in Newcstle falcons. I fear that he will mentally be in the same place he was at the start of last year's 6N's where he had two appalling displays against France and Wales.

    4) Vernon is the only player with experience of playing at 8 for Scotland and he isnt starting regulalrly there for Sale. Denton has potential but limited experience of playing 8 at pro level, being the thrid choice player at Edinburgh for the slot.

    5) Joe Ansbro has been ruled out through injury

    6) Nick De Luca has been playing well and is a shoe in for selection

    7) Having been on form during the world cup but ignored for Chris Paterson, Rory lamont is currently not playing well at Glasgow. However he is likely to get the nod ahead of young Stuart Hogg who has enjoyed an excellent start to his pro career.

    8) Max Evans, one fo most dangerous runners, has struggled to make an impact in the Top 14, and is yet to register a try for Castres.

    9) Laidlaw, the man that unlocks Edniburgh's backs, should start but may only be on the bench.

  • Comment number 83.

    Scotland is a beautiful country.

  • Comment number 84.

    Jacobson, Ford, Murray, Hamilton, Gray, Strokosch, Rennie, Denton, Blair, Laidlaw, Jones, Lamont, De Luca, Lamont, Hogg

    Lawson, Cross, Kellock, Barclay, Cusiter, Parks, Evans

    Front-five: Everyone seems pretty much in agreement here, lets try and get stuck into them up-front and disrupt their set-piece as much as possible.

    Back-row: Strokosch will do a job and won't let us down. Would have preferred to start with Denton at 6 but Brown's injury kind of forces our hand, need his ball-carrying in the team. How anyone can select Barclay ahead of Rennie right now is beyond me, Rennie has to start because he is a potential match winner and could embarrass Robshaw at the breakdown.

    Half-backs: If we honestly want to score tries then starting with Parks is too conservative, fine have him on the bench but lets start with some ambition. Blair and Laidlaw have been playing well for Edinburgh, their fluid interchanging allows Edinburgh to exploit space effectively. Plus Laidlaw's goal kicking has been top drawer in the pressure matches.

    Centres: Morrison is poor and rarely breaks the line, Lamont may not be the most refined player in the world but at least he'll run hard all day. De Luca has been in great form this season and with Ansbro's injury there isn't much choice.

    Back-three: Jones deserves to start ahead of Evans on form. Hogg looked electric at full-back earlier in the season and we need players like him in the team if we're to start scoring again. Lamont hasn't looked great since returning to Glasgow but due to a lack of options I'd go for him on the other wing ahead of Danielli.

    Bench: Not much choice really, plenty of experience to close out a game.

  • Comment number 85.

    Scare England, classy tactics. Worked a treat in the world cup. Oops Scotland lost and went out in the group stage.

  • Comment number 86.

    I've banged on about this before but I remember the "good old days" of Scottish rugby, John Jefferies, Findlay Calder rucking the hell out of opposition. Fast ruck ball - I so used to enjoy watching that from Scotland. To me, Scotland seem to have gone down the England route of "saftey first". Whilst it may have brought some limited success to England, its not brought us back the World Cup or a grand slam for an awful long time. I think this is a good Scotland side and I rate AR as a coach but I think that England will win. I think England have nothing to lose, they can throw the ball around, try a few combo's as nobody thinks they have a chance in this 6N.
    I maybe wrong (as an England supporter I hope not) but I just want to see some good old fashioned rugby from Scotland.

  • Comment number 87.

    Hi everyone, thanks for all these comments. Since the blog was put to pen Ansboro has called off so I wonder who is going to play midfield

    The most interesting things about this game are: who is going to play for England, and is Sir Clive right about Scotland's gamesmanship to do with the pillar in the middle of the away changing room, the fireworks, the pipers blocking the way, and the changing room being locked on the English team's return to the changing room.

    D'you know, hand on heart, rather than conspiracy and plot I rather fancy the old SRU's inefficiencies at the time.

    I am so, so, so, so looking forward to this game. Can't wait.

    Someone asked where my band is playing at night time, it's the Jamhouse in Edinburgh and sometimes both teams come along - if you're there, see you then. JB

  • Comment number 88.

    sorry to hijack your blog but i wanted to say this as an england supporter i always hate england vs scotland games they are always slow, predictable, stodgy, stop start game. all due to the fact england carnt clean out rucks to release quick ball and the scotland lie all over the wrong side and slow the ball down. i can see another crap slow stodgy stop start game. scotland wont win as they kick to much ball away and dont run it. engalnd with a 10 point win

  • Comment number 89.

    Here's my team - very optimistic but I've tried to pick players on form. Whether fielding an inexperienced team would work, well we'd have to find out!

    1) Chunk
    2) Ford (c)
    3) Murray
    4) Kellock
    5) Gray
    6) Denton
    7) Barclay
    8) Rennie
    9) Blair
    10) Laidlaw
    11) Jones
    12) De Luca
    13) Evans
    14) Lamont
    15) Hogg

    16) Lawson
    17) Cross
    18) Hamilton
    19) Vernon
    20) Parks (he'd be useful if we needed to close a game out)
    21) ?
    22) R. Lamont

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm surprised you Scots can spend so much time and effort trying to find the best team to lose a rugby match.

  • Comment number 91.

    @42 Daverichallen: at the world cup Scotland didn't get out of their group for the simple reasons they didn't score enough tries. Wales lost against good opposition, Scotland lost against England in a sham bells and Argentina, not a rugby giant. And with your comment about New Zealend they did change to a forward orientated rugby in the final, and they nearly lost in the final it was very close. Their style is more of a flair, running, scoring type of rugby, which got them to that position to be in the final. You can only play forward orientated of rugby if you can bully up front and to be honest only South Africa, France, and England ( France and England on their day) can do that, to move forward you need to emphasise on scoring tries, or otherwise you wont move forward and start challenging for six nations championships, simple!

  • Comment number 92.

    @48: yep, sorry i dint know that, as I said in my comment I don't follow Scottish that much i just hough he had played very well for Sale in the premiership, and i have never seen much of Kellock, but in that case it's a straight swap between the two.

  • Comment number 93.

    @90: brilliant

  • Comment number 94.

    As and englishman I am truly looking forward to seeing the new look england in action. I am also excited to see scotland. We knocked you guys out at the world cup but only just. Scotland get better and better. You can beat anyone on your day.
    Come the weekend its time to see who will emerge the new poster boys

  • Comment number 95.

    I'm not convinced Parks is the way to go.
    Parks tends to play well when his place is not under threat. In 2010 he came back into the side when Godman was injured, and really there were no other options for us (other than Paterson filling in). He had the year of his life and was probably the form fly-half in Europe.

    Since Robinson has tried to get Jackson involved and now with Laidlaw the form player, I'm not sure Parks will play his best.

    It is undoubtedly a tough call as Parks has the game to control matches and keep the scoreboard ticking over (and we certainly have the pack to win penalties if we get the territory).

    However if he's not in form there's no plan B with him. Laidlaw is a more rounded player and clearly much more likely to get the ball to the wings. While his kicking game is not as complete as Parks, it's still not a weakness.

    I've been see-sawing about this all week - who I'd like to see play. I guess I really won't know until about 20 minutes into the game, but at the moment I'm back to Laidlaw.

  • Comment number 96.

    Also - think with Ansbro out (who was certain to start) I would like to see Max Evans & Graeme Morrison in the centre. They've played together plenty of times at Glasgow, and there is no doubt Evans is a better centre, than a wing.
    Wings should be S Lamont & Jones.
    Dickinson is a loss, but was only ever going to be on the bench.

  • Comment number 97.

    I have two selections - one that I would like to see start and the other that I think AR might pick:

    My selections on the left and the AR ones one the right!

    Ross Ford
    Ewan Murray
    Al Kellock AR - Jim Hamilton
    Richie Gray
    Ross Rennie AR - Barclay
    Laidlaw AR - Parks
    S Lamont
    R Lamont

    One poss change I might make is to play Matt Scott at 12 and shift Lamont out tot he wing in place of perhaps Evans so that we can play a more expansive game.

    Ahhh six nations - magic!

  • Comment number 98.


    Have to agree we kick away too much ball, esp our 9s who resort to the box kick at every opportunity. I am sure if you look at the stats only 10% of box kicks by any of scotlands 9s result in anything other than the opposition running it back and puting us under pressure.

    Inside your own 22 clear it to first receiver, and let them make a good touch, outside the 22 keep the ball in hand. Simple

  • Comment number 99.

    It's very funny seeing Scotland going into a Calcutta Cup game as the favourites to win. Andy Robinson has already attempted to pull off possibly the clumsiest motivational talk ever, in which he denounced the "arrogance of errr...some of the players who used to play for England!". That's sure to put fire in the belly!

    Anyway, I'm sure that the match will follow the usual pattern. The normally sober and reserved folk of Edinburgh will transform themselves into a mob, going bug-eyed and screaming their hatred from the terraces over the extraordinary injustice and oppression that they suffer on a daily basis. If it's dry then England will win. If there's a freezing monsoon blowing then Scotland will win. Odds on for a freezing monsoon!

    Scotland are much improved under AR and showed last year that, if they put their mind to it, they can keep up with the best. There has never been a better chance to beat a young and comparatively inexperienced England side.

    It will be interesting to see if canny Alex Salmond turns up to to bask in the reflected glory of a famous victory (hopefully Murrayfield has a quick emergency exit in case it goes the other way like a well known historical figure bailing out of the Berlin Olympics rather than see Jesse Owen win ;-)). Hilariously he appeared at the Mens Singles Final at Wimbledon last year so that he could be photographed next to Andy Murray, who of course had been knocked out. I wonder if he paid for the ticket himself?

  • Comment number 100.


    Alex Salmond at Murrayfield, only if there's a free buffet on offer !


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