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Time for the search for new talent to begin

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John Beattie | 18:21 UK time, Sunday, 5 February 2012

Oh dear, sometimes blogs are fun to write. But occasionally I have to take a deep swallow, pick up my quill, inhale sharply, gather my thoughts and, after a couple of hours of hard thinking, get it down on paper.

It's time for Scotland to blood a new generation.

Easy bit to say: David Denton is a find, Ross Rennie had a magnificent game apart from one bit of dodgy distribution that a rugby league player would have ensured resulted in a try, Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton were at the heart of a pack that, apart from at scrum time, won their personal battles, and one crazy exit strategy from the team resulted in a charge-down kick and the game being lost.

Scotland players look dejected after losing against England.

Scotland players look dejected after losing against England. Pic: SNS

Aside from that score, neither side looked capable of crossing the other's try line. Scotland's attacked and dominated but couldn't score a try.

So to the difficult topic, which is the coach Andy Robinson. I think Andy's a proud man with a tough mind. He's also a fantastic coach who took Edinburgh to second in the then Magners League and he has engineered wins over Argentina (away twice) and both South Africa and Australia.

But he must look at the way the team isn't scoring tries despite bossing games - in this weekend's game it was against England - and wonder what's happening.

Here's where I think Andy Robinson is different too; if the Scotland team has another bad Six Nations tournament he will walk. I just don't see him as the kind of bloke to stick around and hang in for four more salaried years at Murrayfield.

Robinson could transform any English club.

I always think these things are fairly simple. You lose games either because your systems, selections and practices aren't right, which is the fault of those coaching, or because the players aren't up to it which is to do with player gene pool and the coaching and training those players have had since they were seven years old.

So - do we have the players? It's hard to tell, but most of the Scottish players hold down places in top teams and yet, I know, that we don't have many players who would get into a world team.

Perhaps the fairest thing to say is that we have some functional players who, while never matching the All Blacks, have pulled off some remarkable wins.

Selection? I'm not sure that was right and you'll have spotted that last week I knew the team that was to be named as the team is always leaked.

After watching Edinburgh I thought Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw would have started at half-back and, after the A team demolition of England Saxons, Duncan Weir and Stuart Hogg must be much closer to the squad.

I'd thought the selection of Dan Parks would mean a game of early territory but, instead, Scotland ran the ball from the 22 a few times.

The problem areas in recent years have been the front row and the midfield. I suspect that the likes of Ed Kalman and Geoff Cross offer more in mobility at tight-head and Ryan Grant and Jon Welsh offer greater bulk on the loose.

The second row is fine but Robert Harley needs schooled there.

The back rows are fine. We always produce back row forwards but I am a fan of Richie Vernon and he might offer more pace and zip from blindside flanker and Kelly Brown was missed.

As I said earlier, Laidlaw and Weir are ready to play in the 10 slot, I can't pick between our three scrum-halves, though Chris Cusiter is back on his game.

I'd stick the Lamonts on each wing despite a fine debut from Lee Jones, and Tim Visser is eligible to play for Scotland in the summer but Stuart Hogg is ready to be put in at full-back right now.

Which leaves the troublesome midfield. From what I've seen Matt Scott is practically ready, and Clermont's Mark Bennett should be monitored. We need a distributing midfield.

And lastly the system. The current Scotland system is based around the supposition that when the ball is in very wide channels there is a hit up off the scrum-half, but in general the ball goes scrum-half to stand-off and then gets to a runner.

I'm just not sure it's working especially since Scottish stand-offs, in Saturday's case Parks, glide out with the ball they are giving and invite defenders to smash the receiver.

The Aussies used to say you have to go "north-south" before you can go "east-west".

Maybe, just maybe, the Scotland game-plan needs to have more punch to go forward and have punishing hits closer to the original breakdown working a path to creating space for a back attack.

The English, to be fair, showed what can happen with a simple game-plan and a change of personnel. We might do the same.

And can I make one final point? There is a clamour to increase the budgets of Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors to attract 'marquee' players but, looking through the squad lists, I'd rather we were blooding our own players to get them ready for international rugby.

Because I rather think that the search for the next generation of Scottish players for the next World Cup is on.

Oh, and I believe in Andy Robinson, I like it when a man hurts and cares like he does, but I think his selection and system need tweaked.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Now I didn't get to see the second half but from the first half it was clear our attacking backs didn't know how to play 'heads up' rugby. They are so focused on getting the Attack 'right' with training ground moves - miss passes, passes behind the dummy runner - that they don't look up to see and attack the space. I think this is a combination of mental stigma and Townsend.

    Townsend clearly has developed attacking patterns but they are called in advance and not done instinctively when an opportunity presents itself. They have almost convinced themselves that training ground moves are the way to score but how often do you see a training ground move work. What they should be gaining from these 'moves' is how to attack space and when to use the practiced lines when an opposition defence is ragged.

    They are clearly over thinking and going with 'we must score tries so we must call moves and if we execute the moves we will score'. When they don't work, heads go down and confidence goes and they force things.

    We need players without the fear and stigma of the last years who will play what they see which is why I like Hogg, Scott, King, Denton, Laidlaw and Weir. No fear, pure grit and will look up and know what to do.

  • Comment number 2.

    So disappointed yesterday, especially after the performance of the A team on Friday evening. There are clearly heads up try scorers in the A team. It makes me think that the full team is under too much pressure, maybe they're too scared of Robinson, and the game plan is too orchestrated.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yet again we make a number of breaks but fail to convert them into tries. I find it hard to believe that the same batch of players can cross the tryline for their clubs but once Scotland gets hold of them..... Is it the players' fault that they can't transfer that form up to international level? Robinson's fault? Or backs coach Gregor Townsend? We've been bemoaning this problem for far too long now and something is clearly not right. Tim Visser becomes eligible for Scotland this summer and given his prolific form for Edinburgh over the years, it will be interesting to see if he becomes 'try-shy' once he puts on that blue jersey.

  • Comment number 4.

    Time for a new manager. Robinson failed with England, so it's no surprise he's also failed with Scotland.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is perhaps stating the obvious but there is absolutely no way Dan Parks should be anywhere near the Scotland squad as of this week. When I heard he had been selected for the England match I cannot say I was surprised but the previous confidence I had in a Scotland victory quickly evaporated. Only Scotland can be completely dominant in a rugby match yet find a way to lose, as was the case yet again yesterday.
    Having watched Duncan Weir playing for Glasgow in the Heineken Cup it is clear he can hold his own at the highest level whilst we all saw the immediate difference Greig Laidlaw made when he entered the fray yesterday. Laidlaw has the creative skills to open stuffy defences and posseses the fundamental ability of drawing tacklers before releasing a pass- a skill Parks lacks. Weir's kicking game is as good as that of Parks which made the selection all the more baffling.
    Heading into the Wales game what is perhaps a concern after watching the game in Dublin today would be having somebody with the defensive skills to handle the rampaging runs of George North. North would run straight over Parks or Laidlaw which would make it tempting to plump for Weir at stand-off with possibly De Luca at inside centre. Sean Lamont, who lacks the distribution skills to play inside centre, should be moved to the wing or benched to be used as an impact sub.
    Following Stuart Hogg's exploits in the A team's win there will be a clamour for him to start at fullback which has been a problem position for Scotland since Glen Metcalfe retired. Paterson, whilst a great servant to Scottish rugby, did not make clever, angled runs to pierce opponents defences and his defensive frailties have cost us in some big matches such as the Argentina match in the World Cup.
    However I thought the Scottish forwards were tremendous yesterday, particularly the back row, who completely outplayed their English opponents and I don't think there will be much need for change other than Cross for Murray. Hopefully John Beattie Jnr will return to form sooner rather than later as I think he gives us real go-forward when he plays. A backrow with Beattie, Denton and Strokosch would be a formidable unit and despite the widespread support for Kelly Brown, (whom I also believe to be an effective player) I would not have him as a first choice pick.
    I hope the team for the Wales game will be:

    Front Row: Jacobsen, Ford, Cross (Good mix of scrummaging power and mobility)

    Second Row: Gray and Hamilton (I was impressed with the leaner, meaner Hamilton whose work rate and mobility have improved dramatically)

    Backrow: Strokosch, Rennie and Denton (the pace of Rennie and Denton is an advantage we should look to utilise to the full against Wales whilst Strokosch is a solid, no nonsense enforcer)

    Scrumhalf: Rory Lawson (Lawson has a quicker, more accurate delivery than Cusiter or Blair, with the latter seemingly unable to pass without taking several steps)

    Stand-off: Duncan Weir (For the reasons mentioned previously)

    Centres: De Luca and Evans (De Luca for his defensive ability and Evans for his ability to step out of tackles) How far away is Ansbro from fitness by the way?

    Wings: Jones and Rory Lamont (pace from the former, ability to spin out of tackles and defensive strength from the latter)

    Fullback: Hogg (for reasons mentioned- attacking flair although his defence is slighty suspect)

  • Comment number 6.

    It was hard work to watch another half decent Scottish performance end in yet another bad result. The simple fact is that was are not scoring tries that our possession of the ball and territory deserve and we haven't been able to for far too long...
    I hate to call for heads to roll but our attacking coaching is clearly flawed - Townsend does not seem able to transfer his playing skills to coaching ability.
    I hope Robinson does not walk, we've moved forward in almost every other area, our defense is regularly superb.
    To move forward we must change...

  • Comment number 7.

    Correct John we need to start looking at alternatves. If wales or ireland had the ball we had yesterday they would have racked up 30pts.
    The Parks selection was poor. Laidlaw and Blair have cleverly been the form pairing at half back and should have started. Vernon needs to come back in and DEnton shift over to blind side. Hogg and wier need to come into the 22.
    I'm fed up watching preprogrammed robotic rugby. These guys seem to have the rugby brain coached out of them.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think if Scotland could easily have scored at least three tries and this would be a very different article but they didn't. And this has been said before. The key to success in this game, and what worried me as an England fan, was the first 20 minutes. I was expecting far more carries from the centres, especially with Lamont selected there, to really test the character of the inexperienced backline in front of them. Given that England were well in the game at half time and in the lead shortly after gave them enough belief to get over the finish line. They won't be so lucky again but Scotland might be that unlucky in any of their games unless they start to finish off chances.

  • Comment number 9.

    Coll2008 a bit harsh on Paterson. Would love to see Hogg step up though! Great to see the reception for Paterson yesterday. Would love to hear what he said in the changing room afterwards. John Barclay described it as spine tingling!

  • Comment number 10.

    AberdeenCurler, perhaps you are right about Paterson- not too harsh on Parks though ;) haha

  • Comment number 11.

    For the first ever time as a Scottish rugby supporter I threw my toys out of the pram when I saw the team for the England match. It sent out all the wrong messages and I wasn't falling for the same old guff for the umpteenth time.

    I won't ever watch Scotland at Murrayfield again until they prove they have a team and a playing style which rekindles my enthusiasm to support them by more than just watching the game on tv.

    Please let's be considerate and mature enough not to pick on Dan Parks in this blog. He didn't select himself for the England game or any other for that matter.

    Experimenting with a younger and more adventurous team is the way to go.

  • Comment number 12.

    this might sound silly but we should get Paterson in as a backs coach, perhaps with another experienced head beside him. get rid of Townsend, as we just cannot score tries, and you can't keep on blaming the players when they are regularly scoring tries for their respective clubs. Paterson seems to have the respect of the changing room aswell. can't wait for Visser to come. it shows how far Scotland have come that they were EXPECTED to beat England ( never known of this before ) and you can say England are weak but they will finish top 3 as per. i know we lost but as the clichey goes, i would be worried if we weren't creating chances. i would rather have lost and dominated the game, showing we are a better passing and complete side ( we also had dubutants remember! ) , than play as England did with an even more defensive game than usual and score the worst try in history. also we scored a try. don't tinker the team too much, but one year Scotland will finally come good and finish top 3 ATLEAST!

  • Comment number 13.

    John, read the answers to last weeks blog! Every contributor said 'no parks' yet he played and he cost us the game! Yes, we made errors elsewhere BUT there was plenty conjecture about his low kicking style and low and behold it led to a Hodgson try! From that moment on we were chasing the game. At 32, Parks must never play for Scotland again!

    I have been flat since last night. The A team result raised expectation, I expected Saxons to win that one. Instead we have lost to an extremely poor and inexperienced England XV, season over! All we can do is build for the future.

    Hogg must play. The Lamonts on the wing are too one dimensional and would leave out Evans and Jones who both played well. Let them stay. Scott must come in at centre with perhaps Ansbro or NDL who didnt do badly this time! Laidlaw at Fly half, what a difference he made, despite Jonathan Davies comments (more of that later) and any one of our three scrum halves. The forwards are mainly fine. the front five held their own, Denton was excellent and so too was Rennie, despite my previous support for John Barclay. I would like to see Harley appear at blind side. Weir must be on the bench, we can have a variety of youth and experience beside him.

    The good news, despite the opinions of the BBC, all is not lost. Wales and Ireland are both there for the taking, I didnt think either looked great today. England may not win another game, they are very poor. I could now question the ref, Clancy was as poor as ever, why did we not get a penalty after the Laidlaw 'try' - he was apparently playing advantage....10-9, different game!

    Finally the BBC! Build up to the match 80% England, 20% Scotland, no change. Ireland and Wales get more coverage! In truth, Sky give more balanced coverage and Davies and Guscott should be despatched to Siberia forthwith. Any pain I felt at the injustice of the Edinburgh result was trebled listening to them twitter on! At least Eddie Butler was elsewhere!

    Come on Scotland, four games left, lets pick it up and show we are better than they think!

  • Comment number 14.

    In my opinion, Andy Robinson needs to completely gut out his squad and start afresh.

    Against Wales:

    1 Jacobsen
    2 Ford
    3 Cross
    4 Gray
    5 Hamilton
    6 Strocksosh
    7 Denton
    8 Vernon
    9 Laidlaw
    10 Weir
    11 Lamont
    12 Scott
    13 Evans
    14 Lamont
    15 Hogg

    16 - 22 should include the likes of Rennie, Cusiter, Kellock, Jones and Parks

  • Comment number 15.

    Coll2008, not disagreeing on Parks. I'd be surprised if he starts again. Weir has similar kicking ability to Parks but the confidence to back himself to break and good distribution. Great try on Friday.

  • Comment number 16.

    Parks time must be up in my opinion. He has had his time (2010 tournament he was very good). But I think he should han gup his boots sooner rather than later. Scotland played well on Saturday just 3 areas of improvement: 1.) Scrummaging, 2.) Giving away pointless penalties and 3.) Handling. If we had the composure and patient which Wales and Ireland have we would have had 3 tries. Great preformances from most players but we just need to get it sorted, start Laidlaw instead of Parks and we'd be sorted

  • Comment number 17.

    From my English perspective I think Scotland are doing pretty well with the pool of players they have at their disposal. Their errors yesterday are maddening, but they dominated much of the game, and compared to the depth of players of France, England, Wales, Ireland and Italy playing top level rugby, Scotland are - in theory - going to be the 5th strongest side in the 6 nations, perhaps 8th or 9th in the world overall depending on where one ranks Argentina. Well that tends to be the level of their achievement doesn't it, at 6N or RWC level. Maybe its mundane for a nation with a greater rugby history than present, but all in all from an outsider's view I'd think Scots must be pretty proud of how competitive they inevitably are in every game.

  • Comment number 18.

    Poor Scottish performance against the worst English side I've ever seen in nearly 40 years.
    Parks shouldn't get near a Scottish shirt again.....ever.
    Professional players that can't make or time a pass under pressure....what are they paid to do?
    It will be a long time before I will be back at Murrayfield.

  • Comment number 19.

    clearly Scotland are as bad as Wales were pre- Mike Ruddock days and his philosophy was for the players to play what they see in front of them and relax. Our boys need to take that on board, relax and enjoy the international experience.

  • Comment number 20.

    Agree 99.9% with JB's writings.
    After watching Ireland V Wales game today seems to me that Scotland and Ireland " lost " their matches rather than England/ Wales winning.
    England were ,arguably , as poor a side as we have seen at M'field for a good few years .
    There did not appear to be a great deal of leadership from there new captain.
    As for Scotland .
    Surely a case of " two teams" " . The forwards pretty well did their job and it is hard to find fault
    The backs need a 10/12/13 of true international standard with some flair and pace.
    No 15 must surely now go to Hogg .
    Surely there must be backs playing in NZ/Canada/Australia /Outer Mongolia with Scots g-parents !!!!!!!!!!

    It is easy to blame the coaches but they can only coach " what is put infront of them " We all know that no matter what level we play/played the game !!!!

    A question !
    Do we as a nation of 5m with a small rugby playing " population" expect too much from these guys or does the weight of expectancy just weigh too heavily on the players shoulders ?

    Doubt if there will be many changes for next Saturday

  • Comment number 21.

    One thought about why we can't score trys-i think our support play is deplorable. Anytime we make a line break our ball carrier is isolated and has no-one on his shoulder to take a pass. It seems really basic but we don't seem to be able to react quickly enough to take advantage. Anyone else noticed this?

  • Comment number 22.

    Thanks Husby at @14....your submission for a complete gutting and starting again includes 11 of the players who played on Saturday and Denton out of position at open side. In essence, i think that is AR's problem, there isnt that much to choose from and he must make the best of those available. That said, we have some selection choices in each position when you consider the A team result and therefore it is about getting the best combination on the field. I dont think we are too far behind and could do without any kindly messages from England supporters basking i the glory of a stolen victory by a dreadfully poor team!

  • Comment number 23.

    Let's use our players properly. Get max evans on the ball. He's one of our only players that can run up to a man, beat him and run away from him. Aye S.Lamont attempts to take on the opposite 15 on his own the majority of the time but again he has the capability to spin/bash his way through tackling players. Get Blair and Laidlaw in 9-10. They play week in week out and it works.
    Scotland annoy me when trying to score straight from the scrum 40m from the try line....get the ball smash it up and pull some defenders in! we're simply not good enough to break tackles and set up scoring opportunities from 1st phase play it seems. All the time they're throwing miss passes that are being caught at head height behind players. Use Lamont like wales use roberts.
    My team would be
    1. Jacobsen
    2. Ford
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. I say Kellock my dad says Hamilton
    6. Strokosch
    7. Rennie
    8. Denton
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. R. Lamont
    12. S. Lamont
    13. Evans
    14. Danielli
    15. Hogg

  • Comment number 24.

    I was at the game and wont be back till there is tangible improvement over a 2-3 year period. Im not wasting my time with it anymore. My views re players is as follows:

    Jacobson continues to hold down a spot by doing very little. In the past the "no other option" argument may have worked but not now. There are other loosehead options, one of whom helped take a strong Saxons front row to bits.

    Ford did quite well overall.

    Cross deserves a shot at TH. Murray was ok but other players have to be given a chance.

    Gray is massively over-rated. Coz he's big and noticable doeasnt mean he's particularly good. Spends too much of games hanging around the periphery of rucks looking for crash ball to then be stopped fairly easily. One burst against a weak England team does not cover his failings. Always seems to hesitate when entering rucks due to poor body positioning.

    Hamilton....clumsy and laborious.....and totally knackered at international level after 50 mins.

    Denton MOM said it all but should be moved to flank to accomodate Beattie. Although his form isnt that great we havent had a penetrative ball carrier for the last 2 years. We get stopped on the gain line very easily. Kelly Brown stuggled badly to bounce the first tackler during the WC.

    Rennie played well but should be dropped for next game for F-ing up text book 1 on 1. There has to be consequences for elementary F ups. This is the one area where we can afford to shuffle.

    Strokosch. Decent game and should be allowed a run of games in my view.

    Cusiter deserves another chance but wouldnt complain if Blair got the nod due to his club partnership with Laidlaw.

    Parks....enough. But the guy has had more come backs than Audley Harrison so can never be sure. Laidlaw deserves at least 1 chance given Parks has been allowed over 60.

    NDL was as expected. Predictable club level player.

    Lamont. Not an international centre.

    Back 3 were ok but any rotation couldnt be argued with.

  • Comment number 25.

    Townsend out now!!!!!
    Get Chalmers and Bradley to work with the backs and pick them, let Andy concentrate on the pack. Game plan should be a couple of training ground moves from the back of the scrum and lineout and thats it play what you see in front of you and play at pace.

    1. Jacobsen
    2. Ford
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. Hamilton
    6. Strokosch
    7. Rennie
    8. Denton
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. S Lamont
    12. Scott
    13. De Luca
    14. Jones
    15. Hogg

    S Lawson, Kalman, Kellock, Barcley, R Lamont, Cuister, Weir

  • Comment number 26.

    Given that Hollywood has recently breathed new life into Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy... has anyone considered that Andy Robinson could be a "mole". Albeit a short, angry, and very, very obvious one?

    I don't think that Scottish supporters should be too downhearted. You have an excellent team with some very good young players...Downton was excellent and the Lamonts are always good value. Dan Parks didn't kick well...too long and straight to Foden who you don't want running back at you. His charged down clearance was a mistake but not quite as catastrophic as some make out. Hodgson gets little credit for what was a great piece of "rushing" and, ultimately his very sharp footballing skills in gathering and grounding the ball!

    The media, and the Beeb in particular is engaging in an uncritical "love-in" over Welsh rugby and they're nothing like as good as they like to think. There's precious little of the "magic"...just boshing by huge blokes who, Jonothan Davis aside, are very obvious in what they do. If Scotland can pick their game up, there's a properly arrogant Welsh team needing to be taken down a peg or five. Watch out for the spear tackles though!

  • Comment number 27.

    After saturdays debacle it's time for Parks to be put on the heap and forgotten about, he was selected for a tactical kicking game all he succeeded in doing was sticking it down Fodens throat to run back at us. Laidlaw looked sharp and full of intent when he came on. Duncan Weir is ready for the big stage Robinson should start Laidlaw and have Weir on the bench and Parks given his international P45! The guys played ok on saturday no need for wholsale change in my book obviously no Murray on sunday so put Cross in leave the rest of the backs as they are and Hogg to the bench he can cover the backline at the expense of Morrison who is one dimensional and can't pass this will give us a better chance than going with Parks and our only backline option off the bench being a big lump running at a solid Welsh midfield who doesn't have the ability to bring the outside backs into the game.

  • Comment number 28.

    Yesterday was a prime example of - you can't polish a t*rd

    We all have opinions about who should play where etc but you should always go with the guys in form. Winning is a good habit to have - we now have a squad that aren't convinced they can score tries - they lack belief. In any sport if things go wrong, going back to moves / set pieces from the coaching manual are a fall back but the great teams play with flair and purpose that we seem not to have and what we do gets trained out of the players to conform with the system.
    Serious need for a few young lads to get thrown in at the deep end - we'll take some hidings but to be fair we're not winning as it is.
    Laidlaw must start on Sunday! He plays well with Blair but Cusiter, Lawson also have a good shout.

    Last week's blog comment - Ross is a Brahan Seer or maybe just sees the obvious

    3. At 12:49 29th Jan 2012, Ross wrote:

    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........?

  • Comment number 29.

    Anglophone, at last a reasonable English based observation. The problem is, 99% of Scots supporters screamed 'not Parks' when the team was selected. Hodgson is very limited but credit where it is due, charged down well - but we shoudnt have been in that predictable position.

    I particularly agree with your comments about Wales. Overly hyped and very arrogant one dimensional players, some flair outside but a below average pack! Yet, the beeb love them!

    I truly hope we fire on Sunday and finish off the job we almost did in 2010 when injuries and awful refereeing cost us the match.....again!

  • Comment number 30.

    I agree with almost all of that. However I don't think Robinson will bring in more than a few new players.
    Why can't we score tries? Personally I think this has been because we have had Parks as out main stand-off for so long.

    Ok, so he's not played every minute of every game, but his style of play dictates that we won't be spinning the ball wide to an overlapping winger very often (if ever) in a game. I guess this stifles how we play, and perhaps a lot of the backs really don't believe they are going to have an opportunity to score.

    I've been a big fan of Parks. His form in 2010 during his last season at Glasgow (and for Scotland that year) was instrumental and there is no doubt he won a lot of games - but he didn't justify selection yesterday and now that he is nearer the end of his career, we have to make a point of playing more versatile stand-off's.

    Laidlaw has been in great form for Edinburgh. I would also say Weir has edged Jackson as Glasgow's preferred 10 when everyone is fit.

    Laidlaw or Weir should be starting next week, with the other being on the bench.

    Also - Nick de Luca... how many chances is this guy going to get to show he's not good enough for International Rugby? I know we don't have loads of options in there, but surely there are others who deserve a chance. Morrison & Hogg could both have played, even with Ansbro injured.

    I agree with John. Hogg, Laidlaw and Vernon should come in.


    I'd be happy with Barclay to come back in, and think he will. Not certain Vernon will come in, so could be Strokosch, Barlcay, Denton in the back row.

  • Comment number 31.

    #13 NevilleReilly "Wales and Ireland are both there for the taking, I didnt think either looked great today"

    Every year Andy Nicol makes me chuckle how he says 'this could be our year, there's real optimism in the camp' on the BBC 6Nations pre-tourney predictions, and JB isnt shy of some blind faith once in a while, but this is the best yet!

    How you think anyone Scotland have left to play this year will be 'there for the taking' with that impotent attack, I struggle to comprehend

    Good luck next week :o)

  • Comment number 32.

    Anglophone...good points re Welsh over-hyping and the BBC mission to glorify them at every opportunity.

    Losing 3 out of 7 games at RWC and beating a a subdued Irish side by a whisker today is in my view testament to BBC attempts to make them the new image of rugby coverage at all costs, regardless of their true worth. The soccer style tabloid coverage they recieve and the void left by Englands 8 year demise makes them a good marketing toy.

    Im sick of the way Scotland are panned by the likes of Edwards in particular whereas Italy, who have a larger player base BTW, are marketed as the plucky underdog. If they lost by 7 to England yesterday it would have been a tragic robbery in the eyes of the beeb "experts". My theory is that, like Wales, the Italians are seen as a fashionable draw for viewers and must be held up as "potential" winners to justify their existence in the 6N.

    Dont get me wrong, Im not saying Scotland's performance yesterday and 6N record in general is acceptable as my above post demonstrates. I simply feel that the attempts to denigrate Scotland are becoming less veiled and more spiteful ala
    "Laidlaw ran around like a headless chicken" in Davies' view. The BBC assault on Scottish rugby is ramping up.

  • Comment number 33.

    Scotland's problems seem to be principally front row and midfield. I cringe every time we have a scrum as there is a high risk of a front row penalty offence. I agree with most people that Dan Parks is history. Scotland like France, and South Africa, have some excellent 9's and not that many 10's, so the answer may be to play two 9's - probably Laidlaw and Blair - who could play right and left which would cut down the distance they have to run.

    The big problem is in the centre. I don't agree with the bulldozer approach, and would like to see Ansbro at 12 and Evans at 13 where he will see more of the ball. Hogg should get the 15 shirt and I thought Jones looked good enough to hold onto 14, so the Lamonts compete for the remaining 11 shirt.

    Lastly, watching on TV I understood that the ref was playing an advantage to Scotland when Laidlaw chipped through. The video ref took so long to disallow the try that everyone seemed to forget that should have taken Scotland back to a kick on the 22 for 9-10, instead of a drop out to England.

  • Comment number 34.

    Time for new talent? hmm, where exactly will you find that? Truth is that the player pool in Scotland is very limited. If fault lies, it is with the SRU, who have failed to promote the game sufficiently to bring on new generations of players here (remember the fanfare of 1990 Grand Slam and all that went with it?). As a fellow Englishman I feel sorry for Robinson, but ironically his pre-match commets have proved to be a self-fulfilling prophesy - Scotland play well (or better than the opposition) but still end up losing.

    Lots of comments on who should, or should not, have been playing for Scotland but in defence of the Parks selection I believe that Robinson had read the weather forecast and reckoned that cold, wet conditions would favour Scotland if he picked a fly-half who could kick the ball back into the oppostion 22 at every opportunity. Sadly Parks let him down on that one, but he wasn't the only guy that screwed up.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree with many of the comments above.

    Parks has sometimes done well, but too often he's been really poor. And, even when good, he has never been a creative 10. Without a 10 who can bring others into the game we will never get the tries we so desperately need. Laidlaw deserves a chance, but the on form player is Weir. It's time that we started playing in-form players. Cusiter was outstanding. Lawson would be my replacement. On current form, it's Blair's turn to lead the "A" team. The big problem area for Scotland, after 10, is midfield. Lamont is a great player, but lacks footballing skills to play in the centre. De Luca threatens to be a good player, but has never produced on the international stage. We need a combination of steel and guile in the centre, so with what we have a available, I'd go with Morison and Evans. Jones did well and should retain his place. On form, I think Hogg edges R Lamont. So I'd set up the backs

    9 Cusiter
    10 Weir
    11 S Lamont
    12 Morison
    13 Evans
    14 Jones
    15 Hogg

    I thought the Scottish forwards were good yesterday. They did the hardwork and also showed more invention than the 3/4 line. Murray and Ford, however, were disappointing. Murray does not offer enough in the loose and should not, in my view, start. Hamilton probably did enough to retain his place. But if we retain Hamilton in the second row, I think we can innovate in our one area of strength, the back row. Denton should cement the 8 jersey: we have not seen such all-round ball carrying ability at 8 since Simon Taylor promised so much. Rennie did well too. But I thought we missed Barclay at the breakdown. I wonder whether it would therefore be worth playing both Rennie and Barclay on the flanks: they would provide the best links; both are capable of breaking the line; and, crucially, would be best placed to support the primary strike runners of Denton and Gray and Hamilton. Up front, at least, what we lack is not the ability to get over the gain line, but to support properly those who have broken over it. I think Barclay and Rennie would provide the best support in that context. So I'd go with

    1. Jacobson
    2. Ford
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. Hamilton
    6. Rennie
    8. Denton
    7. Barclay

  • Comment number 36.

    John, any views on the"chaos" talked about before the Calcutta cup match - some would say Andy believed that the squad had demonstrated that ability to execute under pressure. Can you also comment on how the players could raise their confidence level during matches, and how significant that is for success.


  • Comment number 37.

    I wanted to post a rant about the lack of imagination, Dan Parks' kicking (several times he kicked straight to the defenders when the other half of the pitch was empty), about the lack of attacking edge from 9 & 10 (makes defending massively easier if you know 9 is going to crab across field and pass to 10 who won't run at you but will offload to a runner - don't bother marking 9 or 10, just concentrate on picking up the runners).

    I was going to write beautifully and elequently but you know what, I just can't be bothered. Same old storey year after year, yes there were good things but once more youe leave Murrayfield just feeling sad and empty inside. This was the first time I've ever felt like leaving early though.

    On the plus side, maybe at long last the myth that the 'safety first' approach (represented by selecting Dan Parks) works has been shattered. Why oh why aren't we releasing the young 9's & 10's, giving them a chance and building for 2015? I'd give Andy Robinson (someone I do admire) a lot more credit if he came out and said he was building for 2015.

    Ho hum, another year of watching scotland underperform? Or maybe, just maybe youth will come to the rescue........ oh to be a Scotland supporter, I never know which is worse, the reality or the hope

  • Comment number 38.

    As someone said earlier, let's not bang on about Parks - we all know his record and he didn't select himself. The key to all this is the selection and (over-)coaching. Clearly the spread of players between the first and A team wasn't right! Watched the fantastic tries scored on Youtube last night (courtesy of Radio B*****s). On another media comments site somebody pointed out how Bradley at Edinburgh achieved in 6 months what Townsend hasn't achieved with Scotland in 3 years. That same Bradley was in charge of Scotland A and we saw the like we'd never or rarely seen...I really do think Townsend should go and spend time learning his trade as most coaches do (though again, he didn't employ himself!!). For his own sake if no-one else's.

    Robinson is a man I like except for one thing and JB mentioned it - though in the positive: his pride. There's a point at which pride becomes stubborness. He's also, I feel, a tad less than honest or straight anyway. If you say you'll pick on form, then do it. Don't back track afterwards and say well, actually the selection is based partly on strategy and partly form. The why didn't you say that in the first place?

    I agree generally that the coach shouldn't bow to public pressure but I think Robinson's 'pride' got the better of him in his selection of Parks. I reckon the opposition to such a choice must have been something of the order of 99% of the online commenting, which must be a fair reflection of general opinion. When was the last time such opposition to the prospect of a selection appeared? That's the watching and, more critically, the paying public. The very people the new SRU team is trying to woo. That order of opposition is not something that can be ignored...time and again as Robinson has done. It is beginning to damage his reputation.

    In the wings (and in the last 20 minutes on Saturday) is a group of young guys raring to go. They are being held back. Why? Today you had to admire the way a 19 year old Welsh winger and a similarly aged No8 played. North and Faletau were already there at the RWC. Our guys weren't. Not one of them I believe. It's no good mixing new heads with old when too many of the latter simply aren't performing. And I mean the Lamonts, Parks, God(help us)man and Murray to name just a few. The man of the match (and on the losing side too) on Saturday was strangely enough one of the few young guys to be allowed into the team - Denton. I thought he was fantastic. What a shame he was let down by some of his older and seemingly wiser peers.

    So, I think the biggest problems lie with the coaches, their strategies, over-reliance on preset moves instead of letting the guys play what's in front of them (speak to Mr Bradley) and conservative - and at times plain wrong- selection policy. I do hope Scott Johnson earns his pay packet when he arrives! But in the meantime, there's a 6-Nations campaign to be rescued. Enter stage left Laidlaw and Weir, Hogg, Scott et al. Exit, you know who.

    Some humble pie on Robinson's menu this week will go along way.

  • Comment number 39.

    I don't feel wholesale changes are need as Scotland had most of the possession & territory and made a few decent breaks. Have a look at the official match stats and you can see how much ball Scotland won and how hard they worked with it. Reminds me of Wales under Hansen and Jenkins where the team was developing.

    I think a new bit of blood is needed in the coaching team and Scott Johnson may be just the man, just a shame for Scotland that he does not join until the summer. he is able to give players confidence and I think that is the main thing missing at the moment. Robinson has give the team an edge, he has made them a more gritty team, along the lines of England. Just look at how Scotland have claimed a number of major wins in the last 12-18 months and have been very close to winning a few more. Confidence will allow the support runners to run the lines as they expect to make a break rather than be surprised and hold back in defence. It will then allow the player making the break to pass earlier, knowing that he has support, rather than looking for it as the players did yesterday.

    Can't argue with any of the picks above as one or two tweaks are needed. My thoughts from yesterday were that the front 5 need a bit more grunt in the scrum, so maybe a change at prop and/or hooker. The second row were good as were the back row.

    Halfbacks need changing to bring in a bit of pace and give the backs a bit more time with the ball in attack. With Jackson injured then it should be Laidlaw with Weir on the bench. Blair and Cusiter have been leading players in their position but maybe it is time to allow a bit of new blood into the 22 and give Lawson a starting or bench place of his own without waiting for one of the above to be injured.

    Centre pairing was OK but was a temporary fix to cover the injury to Ansbro, so it will change anyway. Evans is good on the wing, a bit like Shane in some of his runs yesterday, shame he is unable to pass his confidence on to the others around him as he seemed rarely in doubt going forward. A change is needed at full back as Rory Lamont is better suited to the wing, Hogg had a good game in the A match so maybe he deserves a chance to make a claim on the 15 shirt. Lee Jones had a quiet game, but that is to be expected as it was his first cap. If he can start to reproduce his club form he is worth the work to stay in the 22, either as a starter with Rory Lamont on the bench or vice-versa.

    My 15 (with a few switchable subs as well) for Cardiff would be:

    1 - Jacobsen
    2 - Ford (c) / Lawson
    3 - Cross
    4 - Gray
    5 - Hamilton
    6 - Strockosh
    7 - Rennie
    8 - Denton
    9 - Blair / Lawson
    10 - Laidlaw / Weir
    11 - Evans
    12 - Lamont S
    13 - Ansbro
    14 - Jones / Lamont R
    15 - Hogg

    16 - Lawson S
    17 - Dickinson
    18 - Kellock
    19 - Vernon
    20 - Lawson R
    21 - Weir
    22 - Lamont S

  • Comment number 40.

    Can anyone explain to me what Chris Cusiter has done to deserve to be put ahead of Rory Lawson who was our most successful SH captain or Mike Blair the SH of a Scottish team that got into the quarters of the HC. But oh no the curly haired dropper gets it again.
    We have good players just a West Coast bias appears to be in play, look at the amount Glasgow get to spend on players compared to Edinburgh but even with that we qualify, which'll mean just more budget cuts here and increases there. Either that or Cusiter has compromising photos of someone at the SRU.

  • Comment number 41.

    @32: I think your wrong in saying Ireland were subdued, they looked very threatening every time they had the ball, but Wales ( I may be a bit biased as a Welshman) starved them of possession and had great ball retention meaning Ireland got limited ball.

    Back to Scotland, you need to find a way to score tries, or otherwise you can forget about winning more than the odd test match and challenging for six nations. Parks had an absolute howler yesterday and has to go, you have two good 10's in Laidlaw and Wier, its time to give them a go. Sean Lamont is not a centre, his best position is on the wing and that's were he should be played, I was very impressed but his brother at full back was very solid. Forwards were good I'd have Barclay in for Strockosh, who'd offer competition at the breakdown.

    My Scottish XV:

    1. Jacobson
    2. Ford (c)
    3. Cross
    4. Gray
    5. Hamilton
    6. Barclay
    7. Rennie
    8. Denton - class against England
    9. Blair
    10. Laidlaw
    11. Jones
    12. De luca
    13. Evans
    14. Lamont
    15. Lamont

    16. Lawson
    17. Dickinson
    18. Kellock
    19. Vernon
    20. Cusiter
    21. Weir
    22. Hogg

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm not sure what to add to the discussion here regarding Scotland's inability to beat a poor England team yesterday other than to add to the call for a change at number 10. Dan Parks has had some decent games for Scotland but has never been the stand-off to move the team forwards. He knows himself that yesterday was not a day he'll want to remember. I turned down tickets for the match and am unlikely to ever visit Murrayfield again after 40 years of attending. I suspect I'm not alone here.

    However, as concerning to me as Scotland's plight is the influence referees are currently having. George Clancy isn't an international class referee (and yesterday isn't the only evidence of this) and today Barnes and Pearson handed a barely deserved victory to Wales.

  • Comment number 43.

    " it shows how far Scotland have come that they were EXPECTED to beat England ( never known of this before ) " - really? Who really deep down expected us to beat England? And as for "It shows how far Scotland have come" ..... words almost fail me.
    Scotland haven't gone anywhere in at least 10 years! (Maybe backwards).
    The side looks very "over-coached" to me. Lateral, static, inept. They can't even pass the ball ahead of an oncoming team mate to keep momentum. I lost count of the times that players had to wait for the ball because it was either too high or slightly behind them (usually both).
    Parks should only see a Scotland shirt in a sport's shop after this, and there's afew others who should not pick up their pay. England were far more disciplined and to me, even looked fitter.
    Without sounding too much like Eric Cantona, if you shake up a goldfish bowl, you are still left with the same fish! Robinson can tinker here and there, but for goodness' sake the real problem is the ineptitude of these so-called professionals in the opposition 22. Stay out of the gym and learn some ball skills!

  • Comment number 44.

    @29 Anglophone and @32 electronicAlbanach - You know when you've made it when as a team you get criticised for being arrogant- and I don't understand where that one comes from? Maybe Warren Gatland, who said straight after the game Bradley Davies should have been sent off? Or our cpt, Sam Warburton, who must be the only Welshman who agreed with his World Cup red card because of the image a tip tackle gives the game of rugby. What an arrogant bunch they are!

    Maybe Wales deserve a little more credit than you're affording having just beaten a top team on their own park with 5 first choice forwards out through injury? Or maybe there's just a little envy there?

    Finally, have you thought maybe the Beeb are 'glorifying' Wales because they play a brand of rugby that's exciting, marketable and will pull in the viewers? They'll have had a lot work to do to convince neutrals to watch rugby after the dirge served up Saturday night, you'll forgive them hyping up two teams who play with power, skill and score tries!

  • Comment number 45.

    Scotland as favourites.

    Dan Parks first pick at 10.

    George Clancy as ref.

    The perfect storm?

    Seriously though. The Scottish forwards are magnificent, generally, regardless of team picked. The backs are poor, generally, regardless of team picked, with the caveat of first choice at 10.

    It's instructive that Cardiff did not outscore Edinburgh in the HC in terms of tries scored - so why pick the Cardiff number 10?

    How many Scottish second receivers have had their careers impacted by this sub-standard player? And as for him making a break & keeping the opposition back-row honest?...

    Off to Cardiff next weekend - 30 years after a wonderful Scottish win that I witnessed - & what are the chances of that sort of Scottish display - going with my Welsh child-bride & I'm not hopeful - well, you know what I mean!!...

  • Comment number 46.

    England won an awful match because they had composure and did not give away penalties. Given how inexperienced the England line up was I expected passion and pace - well mayhem - for the first 20-30 minute from Scotland before things settled down. In fact after 20 mins England just look comfortable.

    Postives: Backrow was excellent, Grey Hamilton excellent - that is it.

    Negatives: front row (Ford was OK) just awful, centres clueless, Parks off form but with the centres outside him I am not surprised he was wary of throwing a pass.

    So what to change?

    Front row: just not convinced the alternatives are any better
    Centres: Ansbro or Max Evans has to play in the centre, at the moment everything is slow and predictable - De Luca has to go

  • Comment number 47.

    Mad dog, I make no reference to the Welsh teams perception of themselves, rather the BBC perspective which is at times ridiculous.

    Wales are what they are. A good team but essentially 13 forwards plus Halfpenny & Priestland. The main tactic is smash and bash, a limited approach at the very top level as exposed by Australia twice in 2 months.

    The last team to recieve the hype Wales get at present were England 2001-3. That was a team which regularly beat 6N opposition by 40-50 points as well as repeatedly scalping the tri-nations. Get my point!

    I personally have no gripe with the Wales team, what I am getting sick of is the lack of perspective by the BBC and media in general in the way they present Welsh rugby as a rose filled garden whilst jumping on any opportunity to pound the likes of Scotland who have minimal resources in comparison.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.

    Excuses are over it's time to go.

    Wing playing centre, centre playing wing, a centre who shouldn't even be on the park!!!! A front row that are little weight gym monkeys, cart horse locks, and third rate back row!!!! A stand off who is either hot or cold, but guaranteed second rate!!!! Only highlight of the game was when the centre playing on the wing received the the ball.

  • Comment number 50.

    When will you Scots wake up and smell the coffee. Your rugby team is very average, in fact below average and thats not going to change for a long time to come.

    That was quite possibly the worst England performance for over 25 years and you couldnt even do a job on them.

    Your boys do not have a chance of winning next week, the best you can hope for is that you may actually score a try!! Do you remember them by the way?

  • Comment number 51.

    Scotland just didn't seem to be able to play going forward. Too much crabbing across the pitch, and not getting across the gain-line. Not enough support on the shoulder of the man with the ball. Too much running into opposition players until we found one that could hold a tackle.

    Perhaps Gregor Townsend is too good a player to be a coach. Perhaps we need someone who could not play instinctive rugby, and who could not intuitively make it up as he went along, to teach less gifted players how to learn to read the game and think on their feet.

    Perhaps he would be a better role model to develop the grass roots game... which is where our solutions need to start - for qualification for Japan...


  • Comment number 52.

    its very revealing i think that this earnest and enjoyable discussion about the many shortcomings of the scottish rugby team should have degenerated into a spiteful envy fuelled assault on the wales team and the coverage of rugby the bbc itself. in his asessment of wales electronicalbanach has clealy never seen us play. Our tries in dublin today - against a very strong irish side no one be in any doubt - were of the highest calibre! George north's break and sleight of hand to create the opening for john davies represented a superb piece of rugby skill, with rhys priestland showing similar qualities to create wales opener. We will take no lectures on rugby skills from someone who's side cannot even manage to conjure up a try of any description! The plain fact is people want to watch wales because of the exciting attractive brand of rugby we play - and its widely aknowleged we lit up an otherwise mediocre world cup with the attacking style of rugby we played. Yes we lost 3 games in the world cup, but in two of those games - france and south africa- we were widely recognised as having been the better team and to have been very unlucky to have lost We stil of course reached the semi final of the world cup - scotland could not even get out of the group stage - and we outplayed an irish team in the quarter ffinals that only a few months before demolished a grand slam chasing england side! Our deserved win in dublin was our third victory in under a year over ireland - perhaps electronic albanach would care to tell us when scotland last beat ireland in three consecutive games? i suspect it was as far back as when the writer of this excellent blog john beattie was still pulling on the dark blue shirt! i look foward to reading this blog - and a post match summary - from electronicalbanach after next sunday's game in cardiff.

  • Comment number 53.

    similarly anglophone's team will get the chance to take us down 'a peg or two' as he puts it in a few weeks at twickenham, though if yesterdays trundling guilless effort was anything to go by they will struggle even to beat italy next week let alone prove anywhere near a match for this formidable and improving welsh side. And perhaps as he also takes such a dim view of wales anglophone would also care to enlighten us as to when england last recorded three victories in a row over ireland? In fact england's record against ireland in recent times has been nothing short of dismal.

  • Comment number 54.

    JB - problem in the scrum was we had no number 8 - we need to play Denton at 6 where he has played all his professional rugby - No 8 is pretty specialised at Scrum time (just watch Taylor for Bath two weekends ago and watch his performance in a pack going backwards - time and time again he got rid of the ball)

    Agree on the props - Cross deserves to start even on a Saturday - Murray is living on reputation and unfortunately Chunk had one of his poorer games.

    Half backs - no brainer - if we want quick ball - Blair and Laidlaw - although Laidlaw was guilty of trying to hard when he came on - something you can't blame Parks for!

    John its time you journos started tearing into Robinson for even suggesting Parks - you are all weak!

    Backs - we should either pick Scott at 12 or De Luca - but not Lamont - he's just another Morrison and we have had that for too long.

    Weir on the bench, Lamonts on the bench and some more Glasgow grunt for the pack.

    We'll be much better on Saturday - that I am certain - provided we have a game plan - I watched the first 30 mins again last night - I have no idea what the game plan was - other than kick the ball back to the opposition!

  • Comment number 55.

    Ross Rennie, John my boy, not "Scott" Rennie.
    Change it quickly or his mother will be upset.

  • Comment number 56.

    Quite agree, John,
    time to be ruthless and blood some new players.
    Take some pressure off them and just let them go out and play.
    Cusiter's distribution is way, way too slow and there is no point in playing Parks. I suspect he did not play to the plan he was supposed to.
    Let someone new have a go that has time to learn from their mistakes.
    But I think there is something in the mental attitude - perhaps they are over coached in attack and so not playing what is in front of them.
    I thought Evans had a good game.
    I wasn't convinced by Jones, but its early days.

  • Comment number 57.

    Interesting that the comments are almost completely negative whilst everyone is still feeling the sting of losing.
    Maybe we need to be a bit less dour and realise that although we didn't cross the line, we got much closer to doing so against England than we have in a long time, and on a number of occasions.
    Whilst Rennie has been getting criticised for hanging onto the ball too long when he was through, 50% of refs would have penalised Foden for knocking the ball down, and possibly even given a yellow too.
    Somebody needs to remind Richie Gray he's the biggest guy on the pitch and to run through and not around people.

    From the stands it looked like England got the best of the ref, and there was more rugby from Scotland in a Calcutta than I've seen in a long time.
    Crossing the line is still our problem, but I think we're closer now than we've ever been in Robinson's time.
    I think having Scott Johnson lined up shows that Robinson will be hanging on for the summer tour and Autumn tests, and I really don't see him going anywhere with the Lions Tour looming. Walking away to an English club isn't going to get him the Lions job...

  • Comment number 58.

    The victories over Argentina, Australia and south Africa are easily overlooked, but our dismal World Cup and 6 Nations record are certainly not. Robinson may have his moments, but if he gets the selection right, it's usually as a consequence of injuries to the out of form players he should never have been considering in the first place.

    It's been said, time and again, by a great many people on this blog that Dan Parks should not be the first choice 10 and there is a quite reasonable argument that he would be most people's 5th choice. Even then, some of those in the list ahead of him would have to lose a limb before Parks became an attractive alternative.

    After such a poor World Cup campaign, for which Robinson must shoulder the responsibility, with the pro teams competing well in the league and European Cup, of course Robinson should be bringing the new talent in. Laidlaw's distribution and reading of the game should still tip the balance in his favour, with Weir on the bench and I wouldn't let Parks ruin the A team.

    How many times should it have to be said, Lamont is not a centre? He keeps playing there and we keep not scoring tries. De Luca has been playing well for Edinburgh and I do think he deserves a run outside Laidlaw, with a fit Ansbro outside him. It would be crazy to drop Jones after such an industrious debut and it must be worth blooding Hogg at 15. We need tries, these guys have been scoring tries. Parks doesn't and neither do the teams he plays for. It's not coincidence, it's not bad luck, it's a lack of ability and it can be sorted, swiftly and permanently.

    Townsend is not the man for the job and I don't think Robinson is either, but if we at least have the Edinburgh backs' inspiration, we must be in a far better position to capitalise on the possession our forwards will secure. They're used to playing together and the coaches won't have long enough to make a mess of everything they've learned this season.

    Of course it's easy being an armchair selector, but when the howls rise on the release of the team selection, you have to accept Robinson is not learning from past mistakes. That must change and it must change now.

  • Comment number 59.

    The display on Saturday was quite simply one of the most appauling I have ever witnessed. Let's put this very simply. If the Scottish team consisting of a number of seasoned caps intertwined with a few newcomers can't beat a rookie (and I don't mean that in a derogatory manner) England team in front of a capacity crowd on their home ground, then they may as well not bother turning up to the next games. Now I know that some will say that this is another totally negative comment, but perhaps that is what the players are needing to hear - Some home truths. Lets be honest, the errors were schoolboy category, and it's not as though this is the first match where they have played like this. Yes perhaps if the try had been given, things may have changed, but it was very dubious anyway, my immediate call was not a try. If they had completed the number of other chances thay had then this single event would not have been as significant.
    With regards to NevilleReilly's comments about the commentators, I partly agree. Gusgott I have no particular gripe against, in fact at times he talks a lot of sense, but Davies..... He is without question the most biased commentator the BBC have ever had the misfortune to contract. As soon as I hear his voice the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Even Brian Moore is more neutral than Davies.

  • Comment number 60.

    I guess whenever a team is on an up, helped by some luck, then they are natural targets for sniping. A straw poll around the office this morning finds a load of happy and possibly still hungover fans (what a riduculous day to play an international match) but definitely not over confident. One of the great attractions of the 6N is the way one good passionate performance can turn the form book upside down. The Scotland pack looked OK to me, and will certainly establish itself in the lineout. Also the Scots playing a genuine openside is going to restrict our freedom on the ground. The way Wales are playing attractive rugby does not come without risks, and any inaccuracies could present Scotland with scoring opportunities, like the last time the two teams met in Cardiff. Wales would be foolish not to take the Scots as a serious challenge, and to be fair on Scrum V last night that was a view aired by all the pundits.

    I can't imagine Gatland and his team though preparing the team in any other way.

    One final point, I think it was a brave decision to put another specialist openside on the bench. Some teams don't even choose one in their starting line-up. Tuperic repaid that faith with a superb performance against two of the best blindsides in the business (which of course partially explains why he did have such a fine game).

  • Comment number 61.

    Re commentator bias, Davies may be bad, but he can't hold a candle to Sky's Irish commentator, whose name escapes me for the moment. I like Brian Moore's eccenticity, but let's not ignore Andrew Cotter, who can liven up a dull game and will celebrate good play whichever team produces it. He is excellent.

  • Comment number 62.

    #52 & 53
    "..its widely aknowleged we lit up an otherwise mediocre world cup"..
    "...we were widely recognised as having been the better team and to have been very unlucky to have lost"

    Just out of interest - what colour is the sky on your planet?

  • Comment number 63.

    Robinson is not the problem and calls for his head are plain stupid. He is only 30 months in the job, and the improvement in squad terms since the days of hadden and williams are plain for all to see.

    It is not that long ago we all feared a visit from England, or France yet this week many of the people who are today calling for robinson's head were expecting a victory.

    People seem to forget that although we have improved in the past two years, we cannot expect the other nations to have stood still. The idiots who were proclaiming that England were there for the taking, forgot about the massive depth of player resources in the RFU.

    Give the man a chance, up to the next WC, because if he is driven out we will not replace his talent easily.

  • Comment number 64.

    Robinson is very much the problem and England were there for the taking. The results in the World Cup and 6 Nations do not reflect the improvement you claim.

  • Comment number 65.

    We have a lot of very talented players coming through.

    Perhaps Robinson lacked the confidence to start Laidlaw, the form 10 in the first game of the 6N, after not taking him to the RWC. Now he should just build for the RWC and go with players who will actually be there.

    Fed up with part-time supporters telling us Robinson should go. There is noone better to take Scotland forward, he coached Edinburgh and then Scotland As before taking on the Scotland job.

    If anything, the players should be worried, that unless they buck up their ideas and learn to catch and pass properly, that Robinson will decide he can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear and leave.

    While I think he is an honourable man who values fulfilling his own contracts, I believe he will want another go at the England job again (and he will get his chance again and rightly so) and he may have one eye on his own career longevity and ask himself how coaching a Scotland team incapable of scoring tries (despite having many clear opportunities to do so) is going to fit into that.

    And if he leaves, we'll be much, much worse off.

    We were good enough to beat Argentina in NZ, if not for Contepomi's offside charge down we would have. We dominated England in NZ across the park in most aspects of the game, and just couldn't kill them off. We could have swept that group, but the players in the park weren't mentally capable.

    I've never seen a Scotland team so comprehensively dominate an England team and put them under the hammer as they did on Saturday.

    It's the old thing of teaching a fantastically talented Scotland team to play 80minutes, and teaching the forwards to get used to carrying and passing the ball. Heartbreaking.

    SOS/ Same Old Scotland.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm not calling for AR to stand down from the job. However, he did just shatter my confidence in his judgement and had me pulling my hair out again with an overly conservative playing style which is excruciating to watch. So, he certainly owes me one and I want to know what he's going to do about it.

    Virtually every Scottish supporter groaned in unison in abject misery when we saw AR's selection for the England game. How can our top professional miss something which is obvious to millions of amateurs?

    Also, regarding our 6 Nation's record under AR I'm beginning to think that it's simply impossible to be that unlucky. Other than infuriating selections and a yawnsome playing style, I'm starting to think that it runs deeper and more psychological than that. We're not quite right in the head (!) and AR is currently bereft of solutions for that. And what was the cause of it in the first place, by the way?

  • Comment number 67.

    George Carlin @55 perhaps this is a good selection proposal. A homosexal reverend from Aberdeen may make all the difference to our team.

    Iain16 @58, davies has been annoying me for years and, trying not to be too outspoken, I cant understand half of what he says. I am not too sure why he appears as an expert on the BEEB year after year. Moore is actually more reasonable but his diction also seems to be getting worse.

    I was also in Cardiff in 82 (and 84 for that matter) great Scottish performance when a team started to come together sparked by a break by a relatively new wing and finished by a blindside flanker of class - Lee Jones and denton on Sunday? one can hope.

    As for the Welsh, some balanced input here and then theres mad dog and his friends. That is why we are more keen to beat Wales than England. You are not as good as you think. I found the 13 forwards and 2 quality backs comment very accurate. A reasonable back row, Warburton looks good and your fijian number 8!

    I live in hope that the spirit of 82 will re-appearand we then get going at last!

  • Comment number 68.

    Every clued up rugby person, will see that Robinson has done a terrific job with a 'difficult' Scottish playing pool in terms of numbers and skill, to put it very diplomatically.

    Any English club would be happy to have him. He is the equal if not better than any of the managers in the Premiership. If he can enjoy a good run with an English club, then there is no reason why he can't get the England job again, which has to be in the back of his mind.

    I'm infuriated. Scotland should be world beaters by now. Incredibly fed up.

  • Comment number 69.

    So Jonathan Davies is really, really annoying to listen to most of the time. What's new? At least he has something to be genuinely chirpy about nowadays. The Welsh are exciting to watch, have put faith in promising youth and they deliver.

    The comment about 13 forwards and 2 backs had me chuckling. They are all big lads who can really play. George North is an amazing talent and one we'll do well to shackle next weekend.

  • Comment number 70.

    Here is a thought to get the grey matter going. In the early 80's a match was played at Cardiff for charity. Scotland/Ireland v England/Wales. I remember Andy Irvine at full back for Scotland/Ireland. It wasnt just picked on form but to give a balance between the nations. Who would you select?

  • Comment number 71.

    Scotland are not far away from being a good international side. The problem is that they've been in that same spot for a number of years and not moved forward. A few wins here and there, but always lapsing back into soft defeats through an inability to turn pressure into points.

    You have to question why Townsend is still in place as the attack coach. Having sat through the game at Murrayfield on Saturday it was so obviously where the problem was that even my 10 year old son could see it. No ideas and no composure whenever they got into the English 22. I may not be popular in this opinion, but I think Townsend was one of the most over-rated players Scotland ever had. In 80 odd games he produced a handful of line breaks versus a bucketful of rash decisions and blunders in dangerous defensive positions. You had to watch him with your hands over your eyes waiting to see what he'd give away next.

    Andy Robinson needs someone with some new ideas as attach coach.

  • Comment number 72.

    Fair play to Dan Parks - cherry picked from oz to appear on the international stage and held his position on the back of some tidy performances bossing territory and chalking up the points. But it's time we moved on. We now have very credible candidates who can take us forward - Laidlaw, Jackson and Weir.

    We need a bold move - Dan Parks to warm the bench for Scotland A.

    And John, I can't agree that Cusiter is back on form. At his best he was much better. Perhaps the two steps he takes before each pass is a ploy to suck in opposition loose forwards - let's face it they won't have been gunning for Parks. But he showed little attacking threat himself and all the passing delay did was give Parks less space and time to work with. Quick delivery needed to a fly half who poses an attacking threat.

    Not all of my pre-match optimism is gone. Agree that tweaking is required and for me biggest improvement is to be made at halfbacks. There are still positives there.

  • Comment number 73.

    Gutting out the team I don't think would make too much of an appreciable difference. Obviously we need to lose Parks. I'd bring in Stuart Hogg and Weir, but really I'd far rather see Townsend dropped her and now and replaced with Bradley for the interim.

    It must be fairly obvious surely? Scotland A under Bradley manage to score 4 tries and 35-0 against a fairly strong England Saxons team. Surely that raises alarm bells somewhere in the SRU management?

    Scotland real meanwhile have 80% of the possession and territory most of the game (with the exception of the very start) but do absolutely nothing with it.

    We need to drop Townsend here and now, not at the end of this 6 nations. We need to drop him and bring in Bradley so we can try and confirm what's going on with our inability to score tries, though I would hope it would be fairly obvious by now.

  • Comment number 74.

    Without meaning to have a pop at anyone's particular political beliefs. To me, the best laugh of the weekend was seeing Alex Salmond grimly applauding while Chris Robshaw raised the Calcutta Cup in front of him. He looked like he'd swallowed a wasp! I had no idea that he was a rugby fan...or did he come along in the expectation of being photographed next a different captain holding the cup aloft?

    A bit like his unexpected appearance at the Wimbledon men's singles final last year. Sadly, his photo-opp had bombed out in the semis. That's politics I suppose!

  • Comment number 75.

    As an appendum, it is becoming extremely frustrating watching Scotland now. Underneath all this is a team that could rival the very best on the world stage. I sometimes wonder what would happen if the Scottish team were controlled under Welsh management. I somewhat suspect we would have made it to the semi-final or finals of the World Cup if we were.

  • Comment number 76.

    ShavedLegs@71 Can't agree that Townsend was overrated I'm afraid. At his best he was the best around. Jury been out for a while now on attack coach role but for me he's been let down by playing personnel and their lack of composure and patience. With fly half change hopefully we'll see his input result in tries (plural).

  • Comment number 77.

    As usual, a lot of sense talked by us on this blog. I won't refer to particular comments, so apologies if I repeat something already mentioned.

    Nearly every Scottish supporter had kittens when the team was announced. Why should we all be thinking one thing but AR thinking something else?

    He keeps saying he is selecting a team to win each individual match. He said that in the World Cup. When will he select the best XV form players and trust them to win every match?

    I firmly believe we have the players to score tries and win - they just aren't being selected.

    We must have creative midfield players on the pitch. We have creative midfield players available - Laidlaw, Weir, Ansbro, Evans, Scott, De Luca (I know... but in the Edinburgh set up he is performing well).

    With these players we will be able to give the back three that half yard of space they need. The fabulous Visser won't score any tries if he is outside a Parks, Morrison, S Lamont style 10,12 partnership.

    When the A team was announced last week my immediate reaction was that it was a good, well balanced team with great attacking potential. Look what happened. I think the A team would have beaten the Scotland XV.

    I think Craig Chalmers must be considered as the backs coach. As part of the A team coaching staff he seems to be re-habilitated within the SRU.

    John, you need to be challenging things on our behalf. I'm sure AR doesn't read this.

    I await the team selection with huge interest. The great burst of support and goodwill for Scottish Rugby through Edinburgh's exploits in the Heineken Cup and Glasgow's current Pro12 position may well be lost with the wrong selection. It has already been damaged.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think on both sides we got a bit carried away with the pre-match. Inexperienced England side 'ripe for the beating', or 'brave new world' depending on which side of the fence you sit. The chance for a glorious Scottish victory, or the new boys to show England supporters what the future looks like.

    In reality it was the like most meetings between England and Scotland; a mediocre game where beating the old enemy is more important than a good display.

    Positives for me were some dogged defending by Engalnd without giving away the usual amount of penalties. Looked more disciplined in that area. Also many new and experienced faces with limited preperation time. So the spirit and effort shown was good. That said we should have been beaten and beaten well.

    Positives for Scotland. Like everyone said Denton looked really good. Ok Scotland didn't win, but you can't win games without field position or posession and you had plenty of that. If the silly mistakes in the final 22 had not have happened then the outcome and analysis would have been very different. So the foundations were there but just didn't happen. Maybe the overcoaching theory is right.

  • Comment number 79.

    I was also going to write long winded essay on what is blatantly wrong with the Scottish rugby national team but why bother because everyone else seems to have covered the same issues above. Here though again is a reminder to anyone that might come into earshot of Robinson and can relay what us the supporters think.

    1) Dan Parks is 34 years old. He has more caps than anyone imagined possible. Through the tears there has been joy, though the tears far, far outweigh the joy. He can't be blamed for picking himself. This is Robinson's call despite complete bemusement from everyone is as to why he tortures us all again. It is clearly obvious that Robinson is only a forwards coach who prefers a 10 that can provide ball for the 8. Townsend nice guy, but no results so bye bye. If AR again refuses to bring in some of the successful Edinburgh contingent who couldn't stop scoring tries in a high level H' group then he must go. No ifs, no buts, go! Weir too again showed he has more than Parks in the A game.

    2) Hogg, Laidlaw and Scott/Ansbro need to play next week. Cusiter's delivery is patently slow & attempted breaks are sign-posted. Blair showed what pace can do when supported Rennie break & would have scored. Murray offers nothing bar a mean streak, dropped. Morrison and Lamonts should never play again, lets move on.

    3) I'd love to beat Wales next week purely to see J. Davies little face. He is by far the most one eyed cocky littlest pundits on BBC. He has no respect for players at a modern level he'd struggle with. Comment on Laidlaw was one of long list at Scotland & would so enjoy him having a stormer against a team that had an easy WC draw and still can't beat any Tri-nations team.

    Toughen up Scotland and pick form like you promised AR, there is still time but won't be for much longer if your stubborn and short-sighted selection policy continues.

  • Comment number 80.

    Hapless ,hopeless , clueless ,says it all. Delighted I ddid not have a ticket ,but wasted my time on the TV ,will watch paint dry nest match.

  • Comment number 81.

    John, I and many others have been saying that we need to blood some youngsters for the last couple of years. It is all very well looking for experience but when that experience is losing it doesn't take you very far. People have pointed out what an inexperienced team England had, and the didn't play very well but at least they are willing to rebuild. Look at the ages of the Welsh backline, George North is still a teenager. We also need to pick on form not on perceived reputation. Parks has been out of form all season and has struggled to get a place in the Blues squad yet Weir and Laidlaw have been playing well. Also feel sorry for Lawson, he has never put a foot wrong in a Scotland shirt but gets demoted to the A team. Also Laidlaw has played both scrum half and stand off at international level. What was the point of having both Laidlaw and Blair on the bench. Instead of having two players effectively covering one position, we could have had Laidlaw and a utility back.

  • Comment number 82.

    p.s. So much for not being long winded.

    p.p.s. England were abysmal & will genuinely struggle next week. The backs offered nothing and their forwards were completely outplayed and muscled. Scotland once again shot themsleves in foot like only they can.

  • Comment number 83.

    Andy Robinson is a great coach and there is plenty of talent in the squad. BUT something is not working on a systemic level.

    Sometimes it does not matter how good the parts are, they just do not fit together. Something has to change, its been too long for it to be anything but a built in problem. It will be painful and difficult to make wholesale change but it seems difficult to believe that anything else will work to root out what is obviously not a solvable problem given the current system. I am not even sure anyone knows what the problem is. Can it be as painful as watching our team lose this way again and again?

    I wish I could be positive about the change that is needed, but I have no idea - how the team I saw fielded on Saturday could be beaten by such a weak England, after completely dominating in every area except a lucky try and perhaps a bit of referee decision making unluck (get over it - you play the referee as much as the game) is beyond me. If after the 6 Nations is over Scotland looks the same as it does now, then build it again from the bottom up, take the hit, go to ground and stand up again ready to start again.

  • Comment number 84.

    The game was poor on Saturday from both teams and incredibly frustrating from a Scottish perspective, I now now what it's felt like for my English friends who've suffered in the reverse for years. Usually it's been the other way round with Scotland digging out a scrappy win after being dominated for most of the game. England defended well not great given the number of missed tackles, but well. They covered Hodgson and pressurised our midfield. Effectively the pressured us into mistakes and lived off that, I can only remember one true try scoring chance they had with the cross field kick (which Denton snuffed out with a simply fantastic tackle).

    Scotland were incredibly frustrating we created the line breaks but the support and clinical finishing just wasn't there. Both Hamilton and Grey offered strong running in the loose and created several breaks and the back row operated well. Ford had a good game with the lineout ass well which is the one area we usually expect him to struggle in. we need to start looking for a replacement for Chunk his handling and penalty count are becoming even more prevelent and more often than not it is his involvement that bring to an end our periods of possession.

    Backs wise we picked a kicking fly half, who then went on to play an awful kicking game. Decision making was terrible kicking aimlessly and choosing the wrong times spread wide (actually even more of an issue leading up to the charge down was Scotland trying to run it out of their own 22 and ending up 10 metre back). I'd be surprised if Laidlaw did not start in Cardiff he achieved more in 5 minutes than Parks did in the previous 60. Our play in the backline was slow, ponderous and stilted. Far to often we delayed the pass from the rucks & mauls, kicked aimlessly to Englands best runners without a decent chase and when we did create an overlap the ball was far to slow in getting out to the wing (that's if the blal wasn't taken into contact).

    That said we created numerous opportunities and Denton looked incredibly good for just his second cap. I forsee a few changes in the pack Murray for the enforced sunday issue and possibly Stroks being replaced however not by Vernon (how can you justify playing him when he can't get a game at Sale?)

    The back will see more changes I expect both Lamonts to be put out to the wings just for their size to counteract the welsh giant wingers, with Evans to move infield. This is no detriment to Jones who I felt did as well as he could with what he had to deal with on Saturday. I xpect we'll go out guns blazing play Wales at their game which will be entertaining but we'll ultimately fall short (unless our front five are able to tie up the depleted Welsh forwards)

    My expected back line for next week:
    9 Blair
    10 Laidlaw
    11 S Lamont
    12 De Luca
    13 Evans
    14 R Lamont
    15 Hogg

  • Comment number 85.

    As often commented, Robinson is a great coach but a poor selector. That is what lost him the England Job. I din't care if we win or lose the next few games, I just want to see our young talent blooded and the first step to the next world cup taken. I would take a thumping as long as we start to score tries.

  • Comment number 86.

    Overall I am really heartend by Scotland's performance and don't think we are too far away from giving someone a damn good thrashing, hopefully next weekend in Wales. However, a couple of points. Although Dan Parks is usually very steady and reliable at stand off, especially with his kicking game ( you don't need a magician at no 10, only someone to distribute the ball in hand to the magicians, or either kick to touch or for field position ), his kicking was dreadful on Saturday. As a professional player you must be able to adapt to the first poor kick and think what's happening here and then change it, whether that is kicking the ball harder, softer, angled, or making contact with the ball at a different point etc etc, don't tell me the balls they play with in internationals are so different from the balls they play with week in week out in club games, but nothing would surprise me now !. I wish manufacturer's would stop messing about and changing the balls. We also hear about coaches, well professional players should always be learning and are never the finished article, so why has Dan Parks not been coached how to kick the ball from a defensive position on your own try line, as I think John Beattie refers to kicking north and south ( up and over ) rather than east and west, especially on your own try line. The other very very annoying thing is Mr Cussiter. At the breakdown, will he please stop looking round for 5 minutes like a demented meerkat.................... get the blooming ball away, it should be instinct and there will be someone there, on your side, to pass to. And please please give the forwards a break at the set scrum and get the ball in immediately after the ref calls engage, not five seconds after. Well, in my comments next week I fully expect to be congratulating Scotland on giving Wales a damn good thrashing !.

  • Comment number 87.

    A few people miss the point with AR. He is very good at working with a squad, there is no denying that. What he lacks is the ability to pick players. We have a few 10's playing well now, why is he still picking Parks? The only decent thing Parks has done for Scotland is left Glasgow and opened up the 10 position for some other players. Also why NDL? I dont think I have ever seen him have a good international match. AR needs to sort out his selection criteria, he had the same problem when he was the England coach. Weir scored 20 out of 35 points against the Saxons, (5 of which was a try), why isn't he on the bench at least?
    If we are blooding players for the world cup, you think cusiter and blair have another WC in them? I would blooding Laidlaw at 9 and Weir at 10. 4 years and umpteen matches to hone those skills.

  • Comment number 88.

    Ihave just seen a comment of " I think all the other teams will hammer the English." many English fans believe this is a real possiblity too.
    Mind you they even though that Scotland would beat them.
    I watched the game (god I was bored) and I'm still not sure if Scotland would have scored a try if they had been playing unopposed.
    Perhaps they should try this at training, you know, just to see.
    Wales Ireland and France will all fancy their chances of putting thirty points plus on England but after seeing this game Scotland may do even worse. the only difference is that Scotland seem to be getting used to it.
    positives for England not that much really but a new team has a win. positives for Scotland.......................the meat pies bought at half time.

  • Comment number 89.

    re The Scotland A team win, a sizeable part of last years England A team played on Saturday against Scotland.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hogg and Weir's tries against the English 2nd XV were really impressive. These guys could do a great job at 10/13/15. Laidlaw though was impressive too on Saturday and should get a start at 10 alongside Cussiter at 9 (it really is great to have 4 guys vying for the scrum half shirt with not much between them). Murray lacks commitment to the team (what continuity can you have with a guy that picks when he wants to play?) and should be dropped in favour of Cross who is more mobile anyway. Chunk is great but needs more challenge from the younger guys soon. Evans at 12 would give great quick options for Laidlaw, and so put Sean Lamont on the wing. Visser will become available in a while and will (please) put on a show like George North. Denton, Rennie and Strokosch again, but Vernon and hopefully Beattie (and the others...) soon will give more attacking, quick options. Got to have more rugby nouse, at times we look like we have no imagination. Although,critical errors apart, the offload rugby, often basketball-style was great to watch and effective. Would be great for more of our best players to stay with Edinburgh and Glasgow (you see how good it gets when we have the groups 9/10, 6,7,8 from the same club) and for it to generate a better youth setup. Even though it was so very, very disappointing on Saturday, if things click, the new generation of Scots could punch above their weight...

    For what it's worth (ie not a lot ;0)

    Chunk, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosch, Denton, Rennie, Cussiter, Laidlaw, Jones, Evans, Hogg, S Lamont, R Lamont

  • Comment number 91.

    I love the comments about Wales being over ratted. I suggest you worry about your own team under performing. Going to
    Ireland and winning is a massive achievement and all credit to the boys. 13 forwards and 2 backs. Are you for real. If I was Scottish I'd still be having nightmares about Roberts and Andy Powell as they have demolished your backline for three years on the bounce now. Add north and cuthbert to that and you have got serious problems.

    Focus your anger on your under performing players and inconsistent coach.

    Why pick parks then run from your own 22. Utter genius selections.

  • Comment number 92.

    A number of the coments here are from people who are saying that they will not return to Murrayfield. Good, thanks for popping by, stay at home and watch in silence and let's hope that your seat is taken by someone who wants to be there and scream and shout for their team, show some vocal support.
    By this, I mean that I feel that the Scotland team were let down by the Scottish 'support'.
    Yes, I was at the match, yes I sang Flower of Scotland, yes, I thought for a moment that I was at Twickenham when Swing Low was being sung as it was never countered once by a verse or 2 of Flower of Scotland.
    The Murrayfield crowd and the Scottish fans need to return Murrayfield to the cauldron of noise that it used to be. In fact, to be honest, I think I've been in noisier libraries.
    Yes, AR and the Scotland will undoubtedly be having a hard look at themselves as we head to Cardiff this weekend. But the Scottish supporters need to look at themselves in the mirror before they leave the house and ask themselves what they will bring to the Scottish cause in terms of support.
    Right, rant over, postive head on and looking forward to a great weekend in Wales and a much improved Scottish performance.

  • Comment number 93.

    Having had a day or so to settle down, Scotland are close to a good team but still 4-6 players short, at least some of which can be sorted with changes in selection.

    The problem parts are:

    1. Front row. I really fear for them against France and Italy.
    2. Back row: great players, wrong balance.
    3. Half backs, too old too slow. Easy to fix though
    4. Centres, last year England had a centre problem - the current Scottish problem is of a completely different level (worse). This is one I have no idea how to fix. Ansbro and Max Evans are an interesting combination but probably too underpowered, Lamont, Morrison, De Luca bring power but nothing else and certainly not speed.

    Onwards to Wales - whose forwards can be bullied and whose big backs have big turning circles.

  • Comment number 94.

    Townsend must go!! Simple as that.

    It's not Robinson fault. We can't ask more up front from our forwards.

    Frank Hadden put Townsend in as the attack coach and there wasn't any tries then, so why would it be any different now. The problem is people think Townsend is SRU royalty and cant be touch. He had one good season and that was thanks to John Leslie telling him what to do.

    PS. John - Hit up of stand-off is the right thing to do, it's just that Parks stands so deep it has no affect. For the ball carrying player to also be the receiver makes it very easy to defend against.

    PPS. Also John - phase play doesn't work. It's an excuse for forwards to get to play like backs. This might come as a shock, but if you dust down an old tactics book, there are things called 'backs moves'! They are most affective when all the big fatties are huddled together and facing the ground during a scrum, also known as 'off the top'. This means that instead for running against 15 opposing players you only have 7 to score against!

  • Comment number 95.

    John, the thing that infuriated me the most was the inability of AR to change the team before the usual 60 minute mark. It is so prescribed and I would have fallen off my seat if a tactical change had been made before then.

    Both cusiter and Parks should be dropped. Cusiter's service was slow and his extra step/pull back before releasing the pass affected everything that Scotland did in attack. As for Parks.....don't get me started.

    I hope AR learns from his mistakes but somehow I doubt it. His only good tactical decision was that Morrison didn't make it onto the pitch.

  • Comment number 96.

    Watching as a neutral, I have to say I can't remember the last time I saw so much ineptitude on a rugby pitch. If they were still playing, I wager Scotland would be tryless. Scotland were so bad that didn't even create chances to waste despite all that possession. It looked like somebody write a computer programme that couldn't be altered and installed it in each of the Scottish players. Guscott and few others couldn't pick a winner before the game because of the unknown qualities of the English side. We are basically none the wiser about how good or bad England are because they all they had to do was hold their basic defensive structure and let Scotland have possession and watch them screw up. There is only so much the Scottish coaching staff can do, to be honest. The only players who manage to decode the programme were Laidlaw, Denton and Gray.
    Any team that loses to Scotland (that includes Italy) now, will have to do some serious head scratching

  • Comment number 97.

    I've been angry, frustrated and upset by Scotland's performance on Sat too. Today I'm trying to be positive and as some have said it just needs to click i.e. it's not that far away (which makes it even more frustrating).

    Scotland have been outclassed for some time but more recently we're tending to throw the game away ourselves (progress?).
    We need to win though to get the self belief going and Sat at Murrayfield against England would have been the ideal place to start.
    As a lifelong fan I'll neve give up hope but Sunday's game in Cardiff will be a huge challenge.
    Well done Wales and Ireland for a fine display - in their love of the game many of the youth are finding their heroes and role models in shirts other than blue.....

  • Comment number 98.

    Play the 'A' team who clearly showed they can win games and not this 'First' team who get a nose bleed everytime they get by accident close to the opposition's try line. Scotland need winners not losers.

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm a big Cussiter fan, although I would like to see him deliver quicker ruck ball. Especially if we're trying to play a high tempo game. His delays take the sting out of our attacking momentum and only let the opposition defence thoroughly regroup. Are the supporting players too slow to continue the attack? Are the supporting players trying to organise themselves in to a training ground formation instead of playing heads up rugby? I don't understand it. Would someone please explain it to me?

  • Comment number 100.

    I fear a hammering from Wales in Cardiff when in reality we should be in with a chance.
    The reason for the hammering will once again be the wrong team being deployed with the wrong tactics. A blind man could see that the front row was struggling on Saturday, yet the athletic prowess and scrum-collapsing capabilities of Jacobsen will once again line-up with that other scrummaging great Cross. The Scotland A props Kalman and Welsh who have been very good in a strong Glasgow pack should be getting the call.

    As for the backs, this is where the genuine fear for me lies. The Welsh back-line is very good. Scotland have form backs that we could pick - Laidlaw at 10,Scott at 12 and Ansbro (or Evans) if he's not fit at 13 but i dread the thought of Roberts or Davies running at that midfield. On balance we do need a more progressive back-line and i'd be inclined to select to the more physical 10 of Weir and retain Laidlaw on the bench.

    The only way we're going to beat the Welsh is to really hammer them up front and i think it's something we're capable of if the correct front-row is selected.

    I'd love to beat the Welsh in Cardiff for no other reason than to get it right up Jonathan Davies. His comments about Scottish rugby are myopic to say the least, we're getting it right at District level with Glasgow 4th (Welsh provinces are hardly creaming the top of the Rabo) and Edinburgh in the HC (again poor shows from the Welsh galacticos in this competition) yet listening to him you'd think we were Namibia (although i appreciate that the National side is woeful atm). His screaming down the mic. at the last Wales vs Scotland game will grate the memory for a long time.


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