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We've found some lads who can play rugby

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John Beattie | 20:13 UK time, Sunday, 12 February 2012

This is the first blog I've ever written in a taxi on an iPhone on the way to the airport.

How do you feel about the game today? I feel sick as we did well and this taxi is rocking from side to side. How do you feel?

My faith in Andy Robinson is back. His tactics were spot on, application was spot on - so what happened?

Dejection for Scotland's Sean Lamont

Players made a couple of mistakes. Could Andy Robinson's career be judged on some dropped balls and loose passes?

Ach, possibly, but I think the coaches, on this performance, got it right and to watch the anguish on Robinson's face was sad.

I liked what I saw and it was just lapses of composure let Scotland down. Robinson's men changed their tactics and played a one-pass smash-up game.

We can score tries. Greig Laidlaw and Stuart Hogg burst on to the scene. The ref was a joke in denying Hogg a try.

Can I be brutally honest? One mix up between David Denton and Chris Cusiter changed the game.

At 3-3 Scotland were in the game, then Wales had a lineout and sniffed a weak point in the armour.

Then two mistakes. A Nick de Luca wobbly pass then a tackle on a man without the ball and he was sin-binned. Rory Lamont followed for an equally foolish indiscretion.

On the plus-side Ford, Laidlaw and both Lamonts smashed their hearts out. Big Richie Gray would start in a Lions team, Ross Rennie was everywhere, and I felt proud of them.

That may sound crazy to you but they played their hearts out.

I'm sad though because we need to win. Now that we can score tries, that will come next.

I'll come back on here with more tomorrow. Here we are at the airport.

We've found a couple more lads who can play international rugby.

What did you think?


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  • Comment number 1.

    Am I the only one who saw that Blatant Contrived Forward pass 52min and 44 sec in to the match - It was less than 10 Sec later that the blind ref sent a scot to the bin. ?????

  • Comment number 2.

    As a neutral on the day, i truly thought the Ref had a dreadful day.

  • Comment number 3.

    Had we caught the ball at the start of the 2nd half I truly think this would have been a different game. We could have won this one, but we shot ourselves in the foot. I feel for AndybRobinson - yes his win rate is not great but have improved loads under his leadership. I'm really worried he'll walk at the end of the campaign - he can't do more than he is doing now.

    We can look forward to France with confidence. But we seem to look to every match with some sort of false confidence so perhaps it's best not to expect anything from the next game. Ach it's tough being a Scottish fan sometimes!

  • Comment number 4.

    Ross Rennie was fantastic. Dont know how Davies picked his man of the match (well I do, he is one eyed) but Rennie was everywhere.

    Not a fan of either Lamonts. The one which threw the ball down when he was sent back from a quick tap was very petulant. Could really do with a ball player at 12. Matt Scott?

    Would like to see Lawson start the next game with Blair coming on in the 2nd half to up the tempo like he did today. Cusiter hasnt done it for me in the first two games

  • Comment number 5.

    Another good post John which broadly reflects my own views such as they are. The restarts at RWC cost us and have again today. That really grates me. In the words of Gerry Rafferty, 'if you get wrong you get right next time'. On to the next game, still hopeful and still, like you, behind AR. Last thing though - Blair has to start.

  • Comment number 6.

    Echo #4s comment - Rennie was outstanding and won countless "penalties" of which the ref deemed to award one or two.

    No complaints over the yellow cards, both stone wallers. Simply put we shot ourselves in the foot with, once again, a poor restart and the yellow cards.

    Tactically well played and encouragement for the future.

    I do hope that Laidlaw is changing Andy Robinsons dislike of the chip/grubber over/through the rush defense, sure it's not guaranteed ball but we need to use it far more against the rush to keep the opposition defenses honest.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well, I agree that we've found some new lads - or perhaps we should say, rather a lot of us had known about them it seems before Robinson and had been calling for them! Nothing new there!

    I still think Robinson's selection isn't right. The forwards played magnificently. He's spot on there. Some (4) old guard - veteran - experienced - call them what you will - backs badly let the team down. And these are the wise heads? The Lamonts, Cusiter and NDL. Stupid yellow cards and lapses. Thank goodness for the young guys who really demonstrated where they should be. Can we have the rest of them in the team now, Andy? Sean Lamont overall had not a bad game but if anywhere he should be on the wing so he doesn't need to pass (but then will he just cut in instead?). Why he sat on the ball instead of passing to Hogg during one good attack I'll never know. It left little room for Hogg as a result. Rory Lamont should go home. The sheer stupidity of his tackle - schoolboy stuff. NDL possibly forgiven but being placed outside Sean Lamont does him no favours. Cusiter - wasn't he listening in class after the RWC? WHAT was he thinking about at the kick off? His holiday? His face after the ball went over the line said it all. Personally, I would've subbed him there and then. If I'd had the wherewithal I'd've subbed R Lamont too, not letting him back on to the pitch.

    As for Poite, is anything done to incompetent referees? WHY didn't he call the TMO - how could he possibly have seen Hogg knock on as he'd thought? Thought? No, assumed. I often wonder if Scotland lose out on refereeing decisions on marginal 50-50 calls as referees also perceive the Scots as being unabler to score and therefore don't give them the benefit of the doubt - though in Hogg's case, that was a try (even Jonathan Davies thought it was so it must've been pretty obvious in that case). If Laidlaw's 'try' last week had been scored by Wales, Ireland, England or France, would the TMO have awarded it? Doubt has its own momentum.

    Is it not time, that all but the most obvious tries should be checked by TMO on an "Is there any reason why the try cannot be awarded?" basis? League seems to check a lot of tries so why can't Union.

  • Comment number 8.

    I should add, reviewing my negative posting (!) that apart from the stupid lapse of Cusiter, the two yellow cards and Poite, it was a good, indeed exciting, performance by Scotland and I think they would've beaten England with this display last week. It's a pity Robinson didn't start with this then!

    The proof of progress (and evolving selection enlightenment for Robinson) has to come with the remaining matches.

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with most of what you say John. We found two more players who can play at this level. I thought Laidlaw was a bit nervous at first, but as the game moved forward his confidence grew. When Hogg came on and R. Lamont went to wing, we had more of a balance in the backs.

    We also found out that Denton is not a flash in the pan and that he is the real deal! He had a game as did Rennie and Grey.

    I believe our fortunes changed on the kick off at the start of the second half. The mix up cost us dearly and Wales took full advantage of it.

    However, like you, I was proud of this team and I thought they tackled their hearts out.

    I would start Blair with Laidlaw and keep Hogg at full-back and R. Lamont on the wing. I would even keep Cross in the front three.

    I would also practice re-starts until the sun went down, or until we learned how to handle them.

    Finally, here are two links that answer the question: "Why are the All Blacks the World Champions?"

    John, where would you say Scotland's skills are, compared to these?

  • Comment number 10.

    Just home, what do we do about the first five minutes of the second half in our games? I'll come back on tomorrow

  • Comment number 11.

    Sometimes I read my posts later and think that perhaps I see the world through thistle tinted glasses. But still I believe its played 2 lost 2 and we should be played 2 won 2! In many repects this is down to selection....we all cried no when Dan was selected against England (despite the recent he was a great player after all posts...he wasnt) and demanded Hogg play today from the start....both were obvious and both were the right calls...!

    Despite that I like Robinson and want him as coach...just his selections need refining.

    I dont think Wales are great and yet they may well win a triple crown....even a slam. Thats how easy it is if things run in your favour. Unfortunately they rarely do for Scotland. In both matches thus far a deliberate knock on has changed the game...last week it led to Hodgson's it was followed by a fly hack, a penalty and a yellow card. on another day the offender could have been yellowed and Scotland awarded a penalty! Today, after the yellow the ref moved the penalty 15 yards further forward allowing halfpenny a far easier kick! What was McDowell thinking...perhaps basking in the glory of ruining another game! Following that we were chasing the game! To make matters worse we then had the Hogg injustice and a Wales side that spent the whole day a mile offside without penalty.

    As for our team, Hamilton wasnt that great but the rest of the forwards played out their skins. Laidlaw was super, taking his try well, and I now think Blair or Lawson must start beside him. Its centres we need, ones that can pass. I dont know if Scott is the answer...Ansbro could be.....Sean Lamont is one dimensional and Rory was disappointing but I think they all gave 100% effort - they just dont encourage free flowing passing!

    We are still close to getting it right. We will thump someone soon!

  • Comment number 12.

    @Frank Becker - No I saw the forward pass too :) Good blog John just one point I would disagree with: Laidlaw. He looks skilful enough but it seems to me he makes up his mind what he is going to do after he has received the ball and started moving. My understanding of good Fly Half play was first making your mind up, then getting everyone telt, before getting on with it. Correct me if you disagree. I can't help but see Laidlaw as a poor man's Michilak except without the infinitely creative Latin spark. In better news Lee Jones, Stuart Hogg and the Lamont brothers all stand out today and should start again. What about Godman for the next game? I know he has fallen from grace but remember that performance against Australia?

  • Comment number 13.

    Another trip to Cardiff and once again we're talking about the referee. Are the whistlers becoming too in awe of the Millennium Stadium and the history/tradition that shrouds Welsh rugby? Clancy in 2010 and now Poite.

  • Comment number 14.

    Did not think the ref had a great game either-very tough call to deny Hogg his try; plus several forward passes missed; and despite what the commentators were saying about good Welsh defense it looked to me they were half a yard off-side at every breakdown and he never spotted it once.

    Having said all that, we have no-one to blame but ourselves for losing the game. An error at the re-start that should be unforgivable at international level and a brainless yellow card for De Luca cost us the game. Felt Lamont was a bit unlucky to get a yellow for his. Just don't think De Luca has what it takes at international level. Outside of those 15 min with men in the sin-bin i thought we handled the Welsh attacks pretty well.

  • Comment number 15.

    Great showing from the boys fronted up well today. Roman Poite had a shocking day completely disgraceful performance from an "international" ref. At the breakdown welsh hands and bodies continually in the wrong places and entering from the side several times he blow for nothing missed alot of our breakdown infringements aswell in fairness. But how can he justify not sending the Hogg try upstairs to the TMO?! Thats what they're their for and had we scored then the tails would've been up and who knows..

  • Comment number 16.

    Disagree with your comment about Laidlaw-as a 10 you should have a play called and let everyone know, but you have to play what is in front of you and change plans on the fly. I think this is exactly the type of stand off play we have been lacking with someone like Dan Parks. I liked the way Laidlaw played and if the other players cannot react to what he does they don't belong there in the first place.

  • Comment number 17.

    Got to find the positives in a Scotland performance that, for 65 minutes at least, was a solid showing. If we hadn't had that sin-bin then it would have been a close match.
    Greig Laidlaw. Superb performance all round, moved the ball well and linked up well with the back line
    Stuart Hogg. The Future.
    Mike Blair. Sparked the Scotland offensive line and must start the next match
    The Back 3. Strokosch, Rennie and Denton are turning into 3 fantastic players, it'll be hard to drop one to fit in Kelly Brown.
    The Ref
    Chris Cusiter. Too many mistakes, poorly placed kicks and hasn't earned the starting jersey as far as I'm concerned.
    Nick de Luca. Can be explosive but still continues to make too many mistakes at key moments.

    Outlook - Start Hogg and Blair next week, drop NDL if Ansbro is fit, start Lamont on the wing again if Evans is injured - made some good bruising runs and physically can play with the big boys

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes, I too thought that the break-away Welsh attack in which de Luca committed the foul was started by a knock-on by a Welsh player.... which the referee didn't spot....

  • Comment number 19.

    A few thoughts of mine...

    In general terms I wholeheartedly disagree with the argument that Scotland have improved under Robinson. It is quite evidently the opposite. We have dropped to our lowest ever IRB ranking, we have recently been eliminated from the World Cup at the pool stages for the first time, and we are unable to score tries.

    Robinson is a good forwards coach who likes to play 10 man rugby. That's it. It works with exceptional player groups such as England in the early 2000s, with woodward to do the selecting, but Robinson has failed to realise that this gameplan has become obsolete. The reason he is unable to select a backline is because he has limited understanding of back play. Want to argue with that? Our brightest sparks in the backs have been players that have been forced on Robinson, either through injury or retirement [hogg and laidlaw - the only two players that have scored/"scored" tries]. Furthermore, we haven't scored that many tries under robinson [20 in 25 games] That, quite simply, is a joke.

    It is true that our forwards are a match for anyone in the six nations, yet our backs are undoing all their good work. I have a real problem with the inference that the players are to blame: it is the game plan and selection that are to blame, and they are the responsibility of the coach.

    1. jacobson
    2. ford
    3. welsh
    4. gray
    5. hamilton
    6. barclay
    7. rennie
    8. denton
    9. lawson
    10. laidlaw
    11. jones
    12. scott
    13. evans/s.lamont if evans injured
    14. r.lamont
    15. hogg

    subs - cross, s.lawson, kellock, mcinally/harley, blair, weir, s.lamont/ansbro/brown

    forwards were very good today, though cross conceded 3 penalties which is a luxury. back 5 in the scrum were very good and kellock had good impact when he came on to face tired legs. hamilton put in a good shift. rennie and denton were exceptional, though i'd put barclay at 6 for france.

    scrum half is a problem. if slow service, moaning vainly at the ref and poor box kicks are the mark of a world class scrum half, then we're in business. if you want a foraging SH that offers quick ball, a strong clearing boot, and good leadership then we must go for lawson. he is so obviously our best SH. put it this way: could cusiter/blair have held down a place like lawson has done at a top premiership side? if so, why haven't they? please, please play him. blair to come later on later in the game to test tired legs

    midfield is a huge problem. de luca may have aquitted himself well at edinburgh this season but he is not international class, and has proved that time and again. his professional foul was the mark of panic. he only carried 9 meters, he conceded 2 penalties [inc yellow card] and his pass to hogg for his [non] try was embarrassing. better options at 13 include: evans, ansbro, s.lamont, hogg and, even, r.lamont.

    Our 12 channel should be occupied by matt scott. there should be no argument about that. if he is unavailable, then - shingler [if/when eligible], king, mark bennett, houston should be considered. you cannot play an expansive game with your worst distribute, who is a winger, at 12. it really is madness. i can't understand it. it's crazy.

    we're fine in the back three.

    the really frustrating thing is that i believe we DO have the players to become a good side, but they are not being selected, and those who are being selected are being given a bizarre and outdated game plan to implement. i for one am not scared of robinson walking, and neither should you be. i was a big fan when he first came in, but he changed my mind at last years six nations, and then the world cup.

    looking forward to france!

  • Comment number 20.

    Pleased I was not imagining the knock-on just before DeLuca's tackle off the ball - was amazed no-one picked it up on the TV - I thought it should have been a Scottish Pen and probably a Yellow Card for a Welsh professional foul, too.
    I thought there was plenty to be encouraged by and at least they really gave it a go and thrilled us in the process. I felt Laidlaw was playing what was in front of him instead of just playing preset moves and mixing up his game. He may not be a superstar ( though he still might be), but at least he mixed the game up and kept the defence guessing which made more room for others.
    Scotland also did really well to adapt their gameplan after struggling to get over the gain line in the first 15 minutes or so - another positive - they would not have done that a couple of seasons ago.
    They may not have won today, but I think they were really unlucky not to have really pushed a class Welsh team right to the wire.
    I am afraid I am not a fan of Cusiter because of gis slow distribution and too many sideways steps. I would be much, much happier with Blair starting esp. as he plays with Laidlaw at Edinburgh and has an understanding with him.
    Totally agree about exciting new players (Hogg was fantastic when he came on, but also Rennie, Denton, Gray, Laidlaw).
    A thrilling game to watch and hope restored for the future of Scottish Rugby in spite of the disappointing errors earlyt in the second half.
    Well done boys!!

  • Comment number 21.

    First of all, Congrats Wales, you're most certainly on for the triple crown.

    Anyhoo ...

    Before the match I made a few predictions ...

    We (Scotland) will be binned at least twice [x]
    Scotland will give away a try through a kicking mistake early in the 2nd half [x]
    The ref will have a hand in the outcome [x]

    I don't want to whinge & blame anyone but Scotland we were unlucky with some decisions. I don't hold any grudges towards Wales, I have no reason to but I am getting sick of inconsistent refereeing.
    Yesterday an English player shoved an Italian player but no binning. De Luca, who I'm definitely not a fan of did the same (I think ... Correct me if I'm wrong) & he got binned. I didn't see why Lamont got binned. That was 2 players binned at the same time (same as last year). I heard a pundit say once that ref's were reluctant to bin 2 players at the same time but it looks like they don't have a problem when it comes to Scotland, the only time they are consistent. And finally how did the officials miss some of the forward passes & infringes?

    I'm very pleased that Scotland got a try (should have been two) but the ref had his own agenda.
    Well done to Hogg & Laidlaw (even though he cost us a try but Edinburgh will forget about that, afterall he plays for Edinburgh).

    I think Andy Robinson should give Duncan Weir a cap before the tournament is over as I think he needs to believe in all his new players & Weir will give everything, I'm sure of that.

    Finally, I'm very unhappy with the lack of respect shown towards Scotland by the BBC & the pundits before, during & after the coverage Why do I pay my licence fee again? Oh that's right, because I'll go to jail if I don't. It amounts to bullying i.e. Stop talking and give me your dinner money ... or else.

    Come on BBC, start showing equality and hire unbiased professionals!

    Sorry folks, I'm really not a grumpy person usually but do I look forward to rugby union & hate it when I have to turn my tv volume down or turn over because of blinkered presenters.

  • Comment number 22.

    Lots of positives today in particular the forwards,Laidlaw and Hogg. Strokosh played well however he will have to be looking over his shoulder for Barclay and Brown is it and coincidence that our forwards are playing well when you look at the completion for places compared to the backs. A final thought, Laidlaw was great today ans has been for Edinburgh at stand off however would any other nation play their best scrum halve out of position? Blair is playing well but not the future.

  • Comment number 23.

    Cusiter and Denton mixup for the restart was the turning point in the game.
    Thought De Luca's yellow was harsh. It was a penalty without doubt (ignoring the knock-on), but a yellow card for a penalty offence in his own half. Yet another Irish match official having a MAJOR impact on a Scottish Test Match.
    Lamont's Yellow was bang on, BUT would he have acted so rashly if they were not desperatley defending a man down?
    As fo Hogg's "try"? Poite got the knock on call wrong, but at full speed I thought he had knocked on too. And the TMO had no "jurisdication". The TMO can only be called on to adjudicate on foul play or events "in the act of scoring".
    The ref thought Hogg had knocked on and blew his whistle so there was no "try" to refer to the TMO as play had stopped.

    And MOTM? Given Welsh dominance of the second half there was no way it could have gone to a Scot, but Lydiate? Aaron Shingler got through more work than him!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    A good game of rugby spoiled by the officials yet again. There has to be something done about the quality of refeering in the Championship. Irish referee last week, Irish touch judge this week. Just a coincidence or a comment on the quality of Irish officialsgiven international clearance?

    De Luca arguably was late but it the only reason the Welsh player got the ball was a deliberate knock on by Wales in their twenty two. When play stopped, I wholly expected the touch judge to call the play back for, at the very minimum a scrum to Scotland. Personally it should have been a penalty and a yellow for Wales. Absolutely shocked that the decision was to ignore all that went before and to sin bin De Luca. The resultant pressure from the first yellow lead directly to the second.

    As for the Hogg try, surely it was inside the 5 metre line and in the act of scoring. Why did the ref not go upstairs to the TV official and ask whether the ball was knocked on.

    Reason that Chunk knocked the ball on at the end of the first half, a Welsh forward had his hands all over the ball on the ground, completely ignored by the referee who had a good view, minimum penalty to Scotland possibly foul play in preventing a score and a penalty try. Refs are ignoring feeding in the scrum as Brian Moore continually states but they now seem to be ignoring players going over the top and blocking. Wales were awarded the penalty missed in the second half for Scotland not releasing. The reason the Scottish player could't release was that a Welsh player was interfering on the ground on the wrong side of the ruck. The Scottish scrum half (Blair at the time I believe) complained to the referee on three occasions about the Welshmans position but was ignored.

    And as others have mentioned, yes it was a huge forward pass.

    Wales took their opportunities well but I strongly believe it would have been a different game if two or three critical decisions hadn't gone against Scotland. I am not saying Scotland would have won but it would have been a heck of a lot closer and much more representative of the standard of play of both sides.

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh, and one more thing. The Sean Lamont incident. Scotland were appointed a penalty which Scotland decided to take quickly. Lamont was called back for a Welsh tactical substitution. As Scotland had decided to take a quick tap penalty, there was no natural break in play for the Welsh substitution. Lamont, who was clean through on goal should not have been called back beacause the Welsh decided to change a player.

  • Comment number 26.

    Yes, it was a deliberate knock on by Roberts before the NdL tackle thing. NdL pulled Davies down 5 yards in to the Welsh half, so why on Earth was Halfpenny kicking from 15 yards in to the Scottish half? NdL didn't have to foul Davies. Hogg and Jones had it covered. Nick de Disaster Area also passed to Hogg's ankles which resulted in the try which wasn't. It was a try and the ref robbed us.

    Rory's yellow was very harsh as Hook did take a forward pass from Phillips at that point. And it shouldn't have got that far anyway because Hook's pass to release Roberts on the Welsh 10 yard line was clearly 1-2 yards forward.

    Just disgusted by the referee and linesmen. The Welsh got away with loads whilst the Scots were treated very unfairly. Phillips put ins to the Welsh scrum were so crooked. Didn't anyone else notice that?

    Hogg played excellently and the backs seemed to be better balanced and more potent with him at 15.

    In recent times we shot ourselves in the foot in the first 5 minutes of the first half with appalling regularity. The Cusiter thing did indeed change the whole nature of the game.

    Our defence is good. Why oh why is Steadman leaving and Townsend seemingly staying?

  • Comment number 27.

    Most of its been said. The "knock on" at the de luca incident looked like it in fast motion but not sure in slow however the forward pass was a shocker. There is no doubt in my mind as a watcher that the officiating team give the benefit of the doubt / decision to the bigger team in whatever game. In the last ten minutes Wales infringed consistently, no card. At the other end another Scot would have been in the bin. The officials do not seem to get " punished " for making serious errors. Last week if Dave Pearson had seen the Bradley Davies incident so clearly it was a red card. This week he is referee the top match in the round. Unfortunately apart from my blood pressure nothing will be done about the officials. As for the match another couple of talking points. Technically the Welsh penalty in the first half was a penalty, I think. However if Strkosch had just lain there and not tried to retire would he have been pinged for not rolling away. Also was he actually interfereing with play? Should Mike Philips have been pinged for ungentilmany conduct, can you can pinged for that?
    The match, lots of good stuff . Great defense apart from once the Welsh three quarters were cut down. The tries were as a result of something else covered in spades elsewhere.
    Stuart Hogg has talent, not sure it's at full back but he's worth a punt. Greg Laidlaw plays a little like Morgan Parra also worth persevering with. The back row and the second row were immense and I include Barclay and Kellock. The front row who knows another French referee that just lets scrubs take care of themselves.
    The stuff to work on. Why oh why are Scotland the worst team at both receiving and taking restarts. Think back Sunday wasn't the first time we have done this.
    Chris Cussiter takes too long to get the ball out, Blair is back to his best keep him, Lawson on the bench.
    The wingers are not going to see the ball with that Scottish midfield. Maybe that's where Hogg should be?
    Andy Robinson must be wondering why the hell he is doing this? I totally disagree with some of the comments that Scotland are worse than ever, when was the last time we had 60% of the ball against England, don't know what the stats for yesterday were but it must have been close to 50/50, even when down to 13 men. We mustn't lose this coach.
    Conclusion, the two Scottish teams are putting on a show and deserve to be supported and encouraged. The Scotland team has a good base but needs to get the confidence of some wins and some IRB points. Learn from the mistakes, believe in your abilities and get tore into France in the first 20 minutes then lets see where that takes us

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

    It's our poor forwards I feel for. They keep scrapping like demons only to see the backs make a right old hash of it.

    Well, we'd be scoring more tries if the refs didn't keep chalking them off. What's Townsend gonna do about that, then?

    I'm with you, Mr. Beattie. I feel prouder again. And more enthusiastic about our chances against the French.

    Laidlaw's try was a highlight. He was a cheeky wee bandit and had me cheering and laughing in equally enjoyable measures. Big pat on the back to Hogg and our brave forwards.

  • Comment number 30.

    I actually thought that this wasn't as good a performance as last week, although that said, a weakened Wales team is still much better than the current England side.

    Hopefully now it's so glaringly obvious that the problem lies in the centres that Robinson will address it.
    If it was up to me I'd swap Max Evans in for NDL, who had an utter stinker. Only got near Cuthbert after he crossed the try line, and his inability to catch a pass led to his yellow card.
    Sean Lamont seems to get a lot of stick in comments on this blog, but at the moment he seems more effective for the crash ball than Morrison is.
    What other big centre options do we have?
    If folk want to criticise his limitations in passing then fair enough, but that's easy sorted. You either miss him out in the passing or stick him further along the line for a passing move.

    I thought our back row had a superb game. We're up there with France and Ireland for strength in those positions, and miles ahead of the other 3 nations.
    Frustrating that when those players are normally so decisive in winning games!
    (Can't help but think that it's no coincidence that the 4 RWC semi-finalists have probably the 4 best number 7's in world rugby).

    There's definitely tries and wins in this team, let's hope they find a way to lever them out before a potential spoon decider in Rome!

  • Comment number 31.


    Forward passes galore. Inconsistent referring is too costyly in games of small margins and despite all the crowing from the Welsh it was small margins.

    Also, why is Godman so out of favour? Another victim of a crass ref in a Wales vs Scotland game.

    And the TMO for Hogg's try? Again, games can turn on such small margins.

    Da Luca = rabbit in headlights in defence. SL smashes away all day but is a yard too slow and way too obvious.

  • Comment number 32.

    Do you think this is turning into a mental issue for the players? They're doing 95% of things right but failing repeatedly in the crucial areas. It must be taking its toll on the players especially when they are playing quite well overall.

    I do feel for Robinson and Townsend who surely can't do much more apart from maybe strap on their boots and play. Surely we'll get a break somewhere if we keep playing like this but it's getting harder and harder not to feel like the inevitable mistake is coming as the phases roll on.

    For those getting on Robinson's back it's worth remembering that Scotland reached their highest ever IRB ranking (6th) under his stewardship. Yes we're not winning at the moment but how often in the last decade have we played against other 6N teams and literally deserved nothing? At least now we're getting to the point where we could've/should've won these games. Not sure if that qualifies as progress but it's better than losing and deserving it.

  • Comment number 33.

    My faith in Andy Robinson has not improved one iota. He does not learn from mistakes and one glaring one is Sean Lamont is not now, nor has he ever been, a good choice at centre. What help is it to his colleagues if he does crash into an opponent? We have 8 forwards to do that and the loose forwards are more adept at it than he is. He has been tried, time and again, at that position and it has not helped us score tries. The one we did score (that was wrongly disallowed) in open play did not involve him passing and, yes, that is significant.

    We need a specialist centre and I'm afraid that's not Graeme Morrison either, as that too has been tried. We don't score tries and Edinburgh do, so the answer should be glaringly obvious, pick more Edinburgh backs and one Lamont will be quite enough. Hogg should have 15 nailed now, so stick Sean Lamont back on the wing and drop Rory from the 22. We don't need him.

    I don't understand why Harley wasn't on the bench. He's been outstanding for Glasgow on more than one occasion and should be blooded sooner rather than later. Denton and Rennie are outstanding, but I wonder if Strokosch is having the impact he used to. I suspect he isn't. It would be nice to have Kelly Brown to throw into the mix, but he's not available, so I think we should see Harley on against France at some stage.

    If you listened to the commentary on Saturday, you would know the Scottish back moves have been identified and become predictable. With impressive defence and attack being the problem, why is it the defence coach who seems to have lost out and the attack coach is safe? Yet again, it's Robinson's blinkers at work again. He wants Townsend to learn the coaching ropes. Well Mr Robinson, the place for that education is starting at club level and working your way up, if you're good enough. If you took your blinkers off and assessed Scotland's weakness, you would see it's not winning possession or tackling (Laidlaw's one miss apart), it is in attack. The playing personnel have varied, but the tactics and lack of effectiveness haven't. What should that tell you?

    I think we have the players to beat most of the 6 Nations teams on the day, but we don't have the coaches. Maybe the Edinburgh backs can teach Townsend a thing or two, but I don't think the reverse is true.

  • Comment number 34.

    I should add, as a long-standing advocate for Cusiter in place of Blair, I've been disappointed by Cusiter's play and encouraged by Blair's and feel he should start with Laidlaw against France. It may be helpful to have Cusiter on the bench for Weir's debut, but suspect Weir's confidence is high enough not to need that comfort blanket.

  • Comment number 35.

    Niggles aside (yes, I shouted forward pass from Wales the moment it happened) I'm happier and more positive about our performance. Lee Jones and Stuart Hogg have been cracking, why not Matt Scott? I love Sean Lamont for his passion but the number of times an offload would have put us in behind a flat Welsh defence was ludicrous, and yet it went to ground again. Put him back at 11 where he can do some damage and employ centres who will straighten the line and create space for him. Scott and Ansbro for me. Overall though, I'm happier apart from a small worry that our backline coaches will shackle a talent like Hogg.

  • Comment number 36.

    First thing great blog as usual John.

    I think a lot of people here are being very unfair on the Lamonts. Yes Rory made a mistake and was sinbinned but he is a very effective runner and solid in defence and was 100% more involved and effective than Lee Jones. As for Sean Lamont, he along with Hogg were the only two actually breaking the line in the backs!

  • Comment number 37.

    Have to say I was thoroughly depressed for much of the 2nd half yesterday and in the aftermath of the game.

    There is only so long we can go on 'taking positives' from defeats (especially convicing 14 points defeats!).

    We only played our best Rugby in the 2nd half - by that time, the match was long gone.

    Stuart Hogg is clearly going to be an exciting player - however he should have played (or at least been in the squad) last Saturday. Once this guy gets a pre-season under his belt this year and get's a stone, or more, of lean muscle on his bones he could have a bigger impact than Shane Williams at International level.

    When you look at how he 'saved' the hospital pass De Luca chucked him (to get to the ball, gather it and not knock-on) it is clear this guy is going to be world class.

    For what it's worth I think Nick De Luca should be dropped. He has had numerous chances and very rarely offers a positive contribution. Yesterday he was easilly our worst player making two crucial errors (sin bin & the Hogg pass). Hopefully Ansbro & Evans are fit for the next game, but even if they are not I would be in the anyone but Nick camp. There are plenty of 'utility backs' or young guys who are more deserving.

    Sorry - a good servent to Scotland & Edinburgh, but turning up can only take you so far.

  • Comment number 38.

    We have now thrown away 2 matches that we could/should have won.

    I hope cusiter really thinks about what he did but there should have bee someone backing him up! Cusiter had a good game in the first half.

    NDL had a poor game again, I know he does well at Edninburgh but maybe AR needs to give somebody else a start. Other than the obvious, I thought the lamonts did OK, they provide a bit of bulk and power in the backs. Hogg was great and has surly nailed on his starting position for next week, as has Laidlaw and to a lesser extent Jones.

    I don't think that there is anything wrong with the coaching setup, just a limited pool of players.

    In my view, now that we have lost the opening 2 matches, we should throw all caution to the wind and look to try out and blood all the up and comming talent available. It was a shame Weir didn't get som playing time yeasterday.

    For the next match I would like to see a backline looking like this:
    9 Lawson
    10 Laidlaw
    11 Jones
    12 Ansbro (if fit, otherwise S Lamont
    13 R Lamont
    14 Evans
    15 Hogg

    Cusiter, Weir and S Lamont on the bech.

    We really need to get some more centres. i don't get the chance to watch edniburgh and glasgow much so cant comment on the tallent there. Whats the news on Shingler?

  • Comment number 39.

    I dont think any one of the lads played badly!! Only changes I would make are Blair and Hogg to start, If a team don't get the chance to play together week in week out how can we expect them to gel? I give them another game together and they are going to start ripping defenses apart, as for Andy Robinson I think he is doing everything right and hope he doesn't feel forced to walk that sadly Dan Parks was!!!

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    First of all, congrat Wales, good luck for the rest of the championship and see you next year...

    I cannot believe we get done on a we have to get som highly paid specialsied coach to take care of this?

    Hogg immediately adapted to our livelier 10 which speaks volume about the rusty oldies of the Parks era that lie bewteen him and Laidlaw.

    We need a real 12, so Scott if fit, has to be given a chance, and as we saw, we need to keep some size at the back as well, so SLamont goes back to the wing.

    We need to see how fast we can play this game, and we need something done at 9, unlucky to have both Cusiter and Blair hitting non top form at the same time but it is abit of an overkill to carry the two whilst they are possibly getting back to full speed...

    So, with Ansbro out, I would opt for the following backline, to try and carry the speed from 9 to 15 : Lawson (Laidlaw), Laidlaw (Weir), SLamont, Scott, Evans, Jones, Hogg.

    Robbo, clearly a forwards'coach, needs help at the back, we have forwards that play like backs, or the other way around, and I feel he is not as proactive with the back as he is with the forwards, we always seem to have the backline we should have had the week before...I would like to see Galthié have a go, as a backs' coach or as a manager.

    Last but not least, although it did not result in points, that phase of Scottish play during the end of the first half was as constructed, forward going, as I have seen in a long, long time from Scotland...Come on Scotland!

  • Comment number 42.

    I am amazed at the discussion about scrum half and how it seems to have been largely passed over that Laidlaw is probably our best scrum half. But rather than being utilised at his best he is being pushed to solve our problem number 10 position. Personally I would love to see Greig at 9 and Weir given his chance.

    And for those questioning what happened to Godman, if you have been unfortunate enough to see some of his performances recently for Edinburgh (where he would be lucky to start ahead of a fit and available Harry Leonard) you would not even consider him for the international stage!

  • Comment number 43.

    1st post, Numberto 19 has got it spot on. best post I've read on here. It's no use playing these new lads and only giving them a half chance because of the system we play. We have to get the centres sorted out sooner rather than later . Thought the forwards put in a massive shift and deserve better. Bring on the French!

  • Comment number 44.

    An underlying concern of mine is our lack of what I would call lobbying influence on the BBC in terms of matchday analysis.

    Our friends at BBC Wales who were producing the match day programme were very careful to give us only one speeded up glimpse of the Welsh knock on, deliberate or not, leading to the NDL binning.

    The Quarter Back forward pass which created the line break leading to Lamonts binning was blanked completely. Any pass from inside a teams half which leads to a 50 yard line break is automatically shown on replay in any game I have watched. Why not this time BBC Wales??

    If this was England, Wales or Ireland, Guscott, Davies & Wood would have been all over it with replays till midnight. Andy Nicol, who I dont rate, is a peripheral figure. Yesterday on BBC Wales it was obvious he didnt want to go against the party line by failing to mention either of these obvious incidents.

    So my point is this.....refs need not fear retrospective pressure relating to poor 50-50 decisions in games concerning Scotland as the Beeb will downplay them anyway. The way Scottish claims for decisions are so casually dismissed is now quite worrying. Refs I feel are following the pundit mantra of "get your house in order, score trys blah blah blah and these things wont matter", as a convenient escape route.

  • Comment number 45.

    Post 21, Huffbuff, agree entirely about coverage. JD is the unacceptable face of Welsh TV coverage, and now Shane Williams is getting in on the act! Irritating stuff.

    AR, trust in thy youth, nothing to lose!

  • Comment number 46.

    for all robinsons qualities and the fair job he has done sadly couldnt pick and nose have to be in a sentence describing his tenure at the helm of the scottish rugby yacht. i explained this in a prev blog pre six n and have to admit i am correct. every one and his brother knows r lawson is our best s half for the first half min, ndl is never an international sportsman these are only TWO examples. rugby hacks me off in that it is so arrogant it wont borrow from other sports. here are a couple of examples 1. it has to be mandatory that the ref if he is not going to award a try when a touch down occurs refers to the tv replay. 2. 10 mins sin bin is far too long for rugby five mins is easily enough or like ice hockey one score in the sin bin for the 15 men and the yellow card is back on. simples but i will leave u odd shaped balled men to your crouch ,pause, touch engage motorway to oblivion. bring on les bleus tho !!!

  • Comment number 47.

    I also think the Scottish players are a tad naive. For Wales 1st 3 points, Philips realised Strokosch was dazed and offside and rather than pass out wide, merely ran into him and the ref true to form gave the penalty!

    And given Mr Poit made such a spectacle of seeking his touch judge's assistance for the yellow cards and also note the touch judge had his flag up both times. Why did a) Mr Poit not ask the touch judge his opinion ref Stuart Hogg "try" and b) why did the touch judge not raise his flag either!?

    Perplexed and confused by a team, which is doing most things right, most of the time but can't score TRIES!!! AAAAAAAARRRGGHHHHHHHH!!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    andrew cotter and andy nicol display the very characteristics that are undoing our team on the pitch. for the last two weeks they have sat among rabbid co commentators and failed to reach meek in the defence of our great nation, when faced with pathetic referees who are giving everything to goliath. the captain on the field needs to start embarrassing the incompetent whistlers into even handed decisions. bbc scotland should get hold of the welsh knock on and the forward pass in our two yellow cards and show them to us and the players as often as we have been subjected to bobby moore and that dam jules rimet trophy viewing. andy andrew get in there u have been given our patron saints name read the lyrics of scots wa hae and flower of scotland anything but give us a balanced view and point out we are being done. going back to the w cup thats four games in a row now we have lost by being the better team. habit is not a word to sit alongside bad !!

  • Comment number 49.

    Scotland well beaten yesterday. We had a lapse of concentration from the kick off and were then comprehensively out thought and out played. One point...was I the only one who didn't view Jacobsen's try opportunity as a knock on? Gethin Jenkins quite clearly bats the ball out of his hands whilst lying on the ground. Wales had hands in the ruck all day, as any good side these days will do but I found myself screaming at the telly when time after time Roman Poite called hands off. If he can see it then he should call it. Despite that, congrats to Wales for a well deserved win and here's hoping that Andy Robinson will have the courage to put his faith in the new players coming through, if they don't play we'll never know if they have the ability at this level, the incumbents have had ample opportunity to nail there places down and haven't.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hugely disappointed yesterday, didn't expect much before the game but at halftime we were more than a match for Wales but went to pieces in that 15 minute spell after the break. Liked Laidlaw at 10 but we have to get rid of De Luca and Lamont as a centre pairing. Hogg looked promising and deserves a start next time in place of Rory Lamont who wasn't great. Not sure what the answer at 12 is but it certainly isn't Sean Lamont, his position is clearly wing - also hope Ansbro is fit for France, De Luca was poor in general play and his sinbin cost us dearly. The forwards were immense again and I can't help thinking if they had a set of backs as potent as Wales behind them we'd have murdered Wales by 20 plus. My team for France is: Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Strokosh, Rennie, Denton, Blair, Laidlaw, Sean Lamont, Morrison, Ansbro, Jones, Hogg

  • Comment number 51.

    Also would like to point out to those who are castigating the ref for not referring the Hogg "try" to the TMO that the TMO is only able to adjudicate on in-goal incidents. At the time Hogg received the ball he was some 5 metres short of the line therefore the TMO had no jurisdiction to rule on it. That aside both Poite and that utter clown Clancy have been poor in both our games so far. What happened to the SH refs like Kaplan and Joubert?

  • Comment number 52.

    I think you've called it about right John, the turning point in the game was the mistake at the kick off straight after half time. We were on top at half time, the error gave the Welsh momentum and confidence. Two daft penalties and the game was over.
    Otherwise we could have won that game and there is no reason why we can't win the next three. I agree with many others about selection, they got it wrong for the first test, wrong again for this test. The forwards played well, much improved performances from Ford and Jacobsen and Cross deserves a run in the side. No need for changes in the pack. Blair must play alongside Laidlaw, Ansbro (if fit, if not Scott) and Evans at centre with Jones, who had another good game, and S Lamont on the wings with Hogg at full back (settled at international level from his first touch - a lesson there: if they're good enough get them in like the All Blacks, Australians and the Welsh!).

  • Comment number 53.

    Concentration or lack of it seems to be the main problem. Cusiter at the restart, Parks the chargedown, In the world cup it happened against Argentina and England just a couple of minutes lack of focus cost us both games.

    I would put Duncan Weir at 10 and Laidlaw at 9, the later lacks a bit of bulk for 10 but is too good to leave out. Cusiter and Blair are past their best, and it would give us two good kickers on the pitch with Weir able to take the longer kicks, which would have helped yesterday.

  • Comment number 54.

    Just to point out the good news that we have Wayne Barnes refereeing the French game with Alain Rolland as AR1, so we will obviously not be seeing any negative comments about refereeing decisions next time out!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    As a Welshman I obviously enjoyed the game on Sunday and enjoyed a victory. However I still feel that we are not the 'real deal' and that the usual Welsh Grand Slam talk is premature. We have shown that we can play test rugby even without all our first choice players but we showed signs of immaturity as well as maturity. One of the comments talked about Wales being offside a lot - we were! But we got away with it. Just look at the All Blacks and watch the great Mr McCaw - he is consistently offside. What he does well is ride his luck - that is what we did.

    I thought Scotland were fabulous and for large parts of the game outplayed us but we had a couple of chances and took them. Scotland had a few chances and did not convert them. Was Hogg's try a try - yes but was not given. The true test of a team is how they respond - get up and get on with it!

    Scotland will win soon and they deserve too - they are too good to keep losing.

  • Comment number 56.

    fewblackcamera @ 49.
    I agree with you, wales should have been picked up for handling on the ground. I wouldn't mind it it was a one off but Wales seemed to get away with it all game. Ryan Jones seemed to be slowing the ball at nearly every ruck!

  • Comment number 57.

    The French are so used to criticise British/Irish/SH referees...
    As chauvinist French) supporter of Scotland, I think Poite had a MISERABLE day!
    Knock on from a Welsh back, yellow card (justified) instead of a scrum for Scotland and a try for Wales.
    Hogg try, it was not a Federale French game Mr Poite, you should have asked the TMO (actually needed it to see the try properly).

    Jenkins hand in a ruck, Scottish knock on instead of a penalty...

    I stop there, I was feeling for Scotland because they played bravely all the way.

    However, still missing the chances to score, especially the first half, the score board should not stay at 3-3.

    I think Scotland is on the good way, and I hope Townsend is not leaving, because he is just learning and could be a good Scottish coach after Robinson!

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm sorry but i have to disagree with all these positive comments about Rennie. Yes he was all over the place - but then doesn't have a clue what to do when he gets there! He's not a strong runner, he doesn't offload and he doesn't make big hits or even that many hits (unlike Gray or Denton).
    I still think Scotland look a little bit clueless and one dimensional - I think they need Max Evans at 12, Sean Lamont at 13, Rory Lamont on one wing, Lee Jones on the other (unless anyone has any better suggestions for the wings?) and Hogg at 15. Blair at 9 and Jackson or Laidlaw at 10 (Laidlaw would be my preference IF given the licence to just play what's in front of him like Quade Cooper).
    Robinson seems to have lost the plot a bit - he's fallen into desparation, all i ever see is him complaining up in his box about blatant decisions - like both yellow cards and the laidlaw no try last week. I think the sooner Scott Johnson comes in and takes over attack duties, the better. Then maybe they can be a bit competitive again instead of a bottom 2 side every year.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a 'neutral' I would make two comments:
    1) Wales scored their 1st try when both teams had 15 players on the pitch and not as a result of a yellow card but through clinical finishing;
    2) Scotland were lucky not to have at least on other yellow card - did no-one see the cynical hit by Hamilton on North with no attempt to 'tackle' and no use of the arms? That too should have been penalised and possibly deserved a yellow card.

  • Comment number 60.

    Well we played very well for a second week ( and should have won ) without any lady luck again, but as they say you make your own luck . We scored a try and had another disallowed so that is one monkey off our backs and we will score tries and they will come in a flood, hopefully very soon. As Jonathan Davies said before the match you don't need to score tries to win matches, of course it helps. Now we know that we have had problems scoring tries over the past few years, but have had some form of compensation with Chris Patterson's excellent kicking reliability apart from his other attributes. Now he has retired we have lost this almost guaranteed source of points, and here lies the rub, because of this it is imperative that we stop making mistakes, no two ways about it.

    I feel slightly sorry for Mr Cusiter because apart from not taking the ball at the restart of the second half ( THE mistake ), he must have read my comments last week ( looking around like a demented Meerkat at the breakdown and taking 5 minutes to put the ball in at the set scrum ) or had these comments and those of others passed on to him, as these aspects of his game were vastly improved.

    Now as far as Mr De Luca is concerned as with others I have my reservations. In my estimation he had a hell of a lot to prove to me after being passed 3 very easy balls and dropping them all on his Scotland debut, and he hasn't !. I am also outraged when I seen any opposition committing a deliberate fool ( cheating ) on any Scotland player and will shout at the TV till I'm red in the face. So after seeing the slow motion replay of Mr De Luca hauling down the Welsh player without the ball I think he and Scotland were very very luck he wasn't show a straight red !.

    Now, as far as the Lamont's go I will hear nothing against them, especially Sean. The coach picks the team and he knows what sort of player he is picking. Okay Sean should be off loading more before the tackle or in the tackle but they give nothing but 100% every game, and there is no doubt what a lift it gives to me as a spectator when he is on the charge, never mind the rest of his team mates !!. He will break the gain line 99 times out of 100 and set us on the front foot.

    It is also such a damn shame that we have 3 very good second rows at the moment, can we not get the rules changed quickly to get 9 man scrums !!. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr Kellog is the captain and is captain material, apart fro

  • Comment number 61.

    Reason to be cheerful
    at 15 men-a-side Scotland won the match 13 - 10 .... and that doesn't even include Hogg's perfectly legitimate try.

    Yet another reason to be annoyed.
    Re. Lamont's sin bin. Re-wind 5 seconds to the previous breakdown. Hogg had tackled Faletau, ruck had formed. Halfpenny (right under the nose of the referee) dived into the ruck from the side.
    Cue penalty Scotland, line out on Welsh 22, NdL returns and we're back to 15 men.

  • Comment number 62.

    Scotland were a tad unlucky and played some wonderful rugby over the 80 mins. Hoggs 'touch down' I felt was a try - he had a good game and there's more to come from him. Laidlaw overall was ok - some good moments and some not so good. However, against Wales (I think this side has really underperformed over the last several years) Scotland showed they can play rugby. Andy Robinson is the best coach Scotland have had for sometime and they should persevere with him - I only hope for Scotlands sake, he decides to carry on and persevere with them.

  • Comment number 63.

    Reason to be cheerful
    at 15 men-a-side Scotland won the match 13 - 10 .... and that doesn't even include Hogg's perfectly legitimate try.
    That is a reason for you too be cheerful, yes, but you can't just pick 15 mins up and get rid of them. The best sides, even when playing in an average performance (in this case,Wales) take chances when they appear. Scotland (vastly improved as they were) still didn't do this.

    There's a way to go yet, but can I say, as a Welshman, thanks for an entertaining game, and good luck for the rest of the tournament. 3 wins is still acheivable...

  • Comment number 64.

    As we seem to have a problem with second half restarts, how about not taking the players off the park at half-time? Give them the oranges (or whatever) and have the team talk on the field. Then, they might not notice that the half has ended and will actually play as well at the start of the second half as they generally have been doing towards the end of the first half.

    Agree that there were many good things yesterday but am getting hugely frustrated by the number of times we end up moaning about the ref. We need to become far more "streetwise" (just like Philips deliberately walking into a slowly retreating Scottish player). Philips knew that would get him a penalty but was it sporting play? A very slow and deliberate act to gain a penalty? It was certainly a very streetwise act.

  • Comment number 65.

    Re the Strokoch (sorry If spelling is wrong) incident. He was dazed and got up off the ground at a maul. The Welsh player deliberately ran into his back as he was retreating to the Scottish defensive line. Has the rule of accidental offside been done away with? This would have ended up with a elsh scrum not a kick at goal.

  • Comment number 66.

    Where does AR go with his half-backs now?
    He has openly stated that Cusiter is his first choice scrum half, after yesterday does that continue to be the case? If he's building to the future, he has to put Laidlaw at 9 and have either Jackson or Weir at 10. If he just wants to win against the French then it has to be Blair and Laidlaw starting.
    As for our centres, Ansbro and Evans are now surely in the frame as we have good options for the wings/fullback.
    All we need is a good game from a referee and some concentration right from the start (offs).

  • Comment number 67.

    @63 bentyger what about the forward pass and the knock on prior to the two sin bins. whinger davis would have had plenty to say if these had been on the other side of the daffodil. the better team lost this game due to a totally incompetent frenchman even allowing for our glaring errors.

  • Comment number 68.

    AM I wrong, but I noticed a few massive errors by the ref which had a huge impact on the game... 1st half, Scotland were attacking the line after 20 something phases and jacobson picked the ball up with a meter to go, he was penalised for knocking the ball on, however there was a blatant hand in the ruck by a welsh prop, that is a professional foul and should have a yellow card! yet the nuteral tele pundit (Davies) praised the prop.....
    2nd half, the sin bin of NDL (who is a shocking player, bin that lad when ever you like).. leading up to the sin bin was a big tackle on one of the scottish players, however it looked like a welsh hand knocked the ball on in the tackle, therefore a scottish scrum, but no not to be... 2 huge errors by the ref, and there a lots more... Hogg etc! hope we don't see that ref to soon!! or ever again.

  • Comment number 69.

    What does Gregor Townsend actually do?

  • Comment number 70.

    Must write further as my last comments were not shown, must be writing too much.

    I was saying that it is such a shame that we have 3 very good second rows at the moment. As far as I'm concerned Mr Kellog is the real captain, and he is captain material. Unfortunately Mr Robinson's first choice 2nd row is Gray and Hamilton which is fair enough. If only we could accommodate all 3. Now, that is not too impossible as Mr Robinson has flirted with a second rower at flanker before ( remember Nathan Hindes ). Now you can't tell me that Mr Hindes was quicker than Mr Kellog never mind Mr Gray so, it is possible to get all 3 on the pitch. Of course then we would have to drop one of the flankers or the No 8, which would be impossible as they are also a very good unit and playing well, like all the scrum unit, and the new No 8 Mr Denton is a revelation. However, as has been said by someone else Mr Strokosh has not been quite the player he was when he burst onto the scene.

    Any way good luck for the next match Scotland. You are playing well and can't do much more, apart from cutting out the school boy mistakes !!.

    They wouldn't let you get away with those mistakes at Drumley House, would they Mr Beattie !

  • Comment number 71.

    felt so sorry for Hogg when he wasn't awarded the try which was obviously valid. I feel in every game scotland play it is always 15 Vs 16 (ref being on the opposition side)

  • Comment number 72.

    As a neutral observer, Poite had a total shocker and I feel sorry for Robinson and the Scots. He let the Welsh forwards get away with daylight robbery at the breakdowns, he missed the deliberate Welsh knock-on and he disallowed a legitimate try when he should have gone to the TMO.

    Wales have obviously come up with a ploy to flop a forward over each ruck to obstruct the scrum half - they did it time and again. The refs should allow good old fashioned rucking/shoeing if that happens.

    Wales were too good for Scotland in the backs The Scots forwards outplayed the Welsh forwards for large chunks of the game.The abysmal ref had a material impact on the game.

    I only hope when England play Wales we get a ref who knows what he is doing.

  • Comment number 73.

    I think Andy Robinson is a great forwards coach, and I thought the Scottish pack was outstanding! My only real complaint is the selection of the backs, he doesn't seem to have a clue and has been far too cautious in blooding the talent coming through! I think once ansboro is back, we'll start to look a bit better, the great white hopes have to be Matt Scott & Mark Bennett, if these guys can come good by the next world cup I think we'll have a backline with real cutting edge. Have to say though Cusiter killed us in the backs, crabbing across the park before passing, and giving the excellent wales defence vital extra seconds to close us down, Blairs delivery made a huge difference! Thought Hogg was excellent, as was Jones, two young guys full of confidence! They were the only two guys who managed to step and get on the outside shoulder, sucking in defenders!

    But I'm optimistic, wouldn't mind losing the remaining games, if Robinson would just take a chance and look long term, rather on short terms results.

    p.s would have been great to see some angled running from the backs, instead of just running straight and please put de luca out his misery

  • Comment number 74.

    Another good blog John and interesting comments. Relieved to see Frank Bekker@1 and others highlighting the clear forward pass seconds before Lamont's yellow card! So obvious - but no response from touch-judge, referee or commentators! Difficult to referee a game - but when chosen to at that level, simple infringements should not be missed. Luck against Scotland yet again, but played their hearts out. Still have faith - but would love to see quicker ball, passes going wide and some impact running on to the passes. We have the players to make running breaks and should use them more. Great performance from Hogg - shame about 'The Try'!
    Live in hope for the elusive win(s) and just hope mine and the nations' blood pressure can cope! Come on Scotland - Keep with it and we'll get there!

  • Comment number 75.

    Neutral view - The number of people suggesting that the disallowed knock-on try was critical are conveniently ignoring the fact that the laidlaw try was so soon after. Wales did not clear their lines and Scotland scored. If the first had been allowed, Scotland wouldn't have had the second as they would have been in their own 22. The yellow cards were bang on - cynical and deliberate cheating and as a result the scoreline flattered, but the better team still won in my view.

  • Comment number 76.

    Five crazy minutes cost Scotland that game, Wales were well shackled in the first-half and were going nowhere fast, I don't think they could believe their luck at the start of the second. Denton should have taken control of the re-start, schoolboy rugby really, I think he was looking for Cussiter to take and give a short pop but at such a crucial phase he should have put his name on it.

    Otherwise, Scotland looked useful for long periods of the game. One telling point though, the knock-on in the first-half with the Welsh try-line begging. Space out left and no thought of going wide. Why not?

    From a neutral standpoint, thought Hogg was a find.

    Wales to beat England but get stuffed by France. It's a French grand slam year I think.

  • Comment number 77.

    I cannot for the life of me understand how Chris Cusiter still gets in ahead of Blair or Lawson. When a defence plays so flat as the Welsh do the 3 or 4 steps sideways that Cusiter takes stops any attack stone dead - the defence are right in the faces of the outside backs. Blair has to start with Laidlaw at 10 and Lawson and Weir on th bench.

    Nick De Luca has to have played his last game at this level. Too many crucial mistakes which cost us points at both ends of the park. His tackle on Davies was terrible play (albeit there was a Welsh knock on in the build up to this) as was his dreadful pass to Hogg which would have resulted in a more clear cut (and obvious to the referee) try. Hopefully Ansbro is back or play Evans in the centre if fit and move Rory Lamont to the wing to accomodate Hogg at FB.

    It's so frustrating to see we are so close to a decent team. Just need some brave selection and the rub of the green for a change.

  • Comment number 78.

    Forwards were heroic - brave, hard, up for it. Denton and Rennie superb, total respect to them.

    In the backs, Laidlaw got things moving, Hogg was excellent, Lee Jones looked sparky too.

    Problem remains the midfield.... how many times do we need to see De Luca to know he is NOT good enough for Test level. Talented yes, but simply not good enough.

    Love Sean Lamont's passion and commitment but he still lacks a creative edge to offload.

    Need a creative spark in midfield - bring in Matt Scott, he deserves a go.

    p.s what ever happened to Alex Grove? he looked superb couple years ago - quick and brave, but then fell off the Scotland radar. He could surely do a job in midfield as a specialist centre.

  • Comment number 79.

    Well another trip away with two to go not counting the next home game ,Sadly another defeat as par for the course
    Having read a lot of the comments some are realy good and i cant help but agree that Cuisiter & De Luca are so far of the game i cant see how they make the team time & time again.
    So with the forwards playing good it should only take a few wee tweeks in the backs to make the team complete . lets hope this happens sooner rather than later

  • Comment number 80.

    For all the doom and gloom, Scotland are close to a good side:

    1. Front row (Ford excepted) is disappointing. They had an edge in the scrum against Wales but failed to make most of it (partly due to ref). Work of props in loose was mostly hopeless. Lots of effort but very little thought or penetration.
    2. Nos 4-8 were outstanding.
    3. Hogg took to international rugby easily.
    4. Centres were hopeless. As others have said De Luca has to go.
    5. Scotland played mostly brainlessly. At international level players should recognise what is happening and adjust Scotland do not. Simple example Wales commit very players to breakdown - Scotland won a few turnovers as a result, so why did Scotland not consistently commit extra men and drive over the breakdown?

    Scotland is only 4 players, at most, short of an excellent team

  • Comment number 81.

    Despite the 15 minutes of madness, I feel very positive about yesterday.
    I know we have been the galant loser more times than I care to remember, but we really have the signs of a very strong, young side coming through.

    Hogg was very good when he came on and looks to have a bit of the Glen Metcalf about his attacking play.
    Laidlaw, although had his faults, played heads up rugby and reacted as a good 10 does to whats in front of him, which is what we all cried out for when Parks was there.
    Forwards were exceptional. To a man.

    As has been said above, the refereeing was abysmal. The amount of times he told the Welsh forwards to get they're hands off but did nothing to penalise them was unbelieavable. Fair play to the Welsh for getting away with it, but the ref noticed and did nothing.
    The forward pass for the second try was at least a yard forward and the ref was miles away from Hogg but deemed he had knocked on. He did not rule on what he saw, he ruled on an assumption. What happened to giving the attacker the benefit of the doubt?????

    We cant blame the ref for us losing, we lost our heads for 15 minutes. But I feel very positive about the next few years. If only we could find a decent centre pairing and get Sean back on the wing.

  • Comment number 82.

    Blair must start the next game. Cusiter was taking too long to get the ball away yesterday. Seems to have to pick the ball up then steady himself before making the pass instead of just playing it off the floor. When he didnt do that he picked it up crabbed across the pitch. The wales line was quick in defence but he made it easy for them to cut down the space.

    Was good to see Hogg take his chance and has shown that he has the compsure to deal with the big occasion.

    The referee had a shocker. Continually told Wales to get their hands off the ball but then never penalised them when they didnt and was just an empty threat.

    However feel confident and positive for the rest of the tournament and hope the team takes confidence from the way they played yesterday. I believe we will beat Italy and could ever turn over either Ireland or France with it being at Murrayfield.

    Think AR will largely stick with the same team that finished yesterday and rightly so. Think Hogg will start at fullback with R.Lamont moving to the wing for probably Lee Jones if Evans is fit.

  • Comment number 83.

    #75 If yellow cards are to be given for cynical and deliberate cheating then please explain why no Welsh players were binned yesterday. Time and time again they were guilty of handling on the deck, not rolling away, coming in from the side and being offside. All equally cynical and deliberate.
    Yellow cards and sin binning for 10 minutes is a completely disproportionate punishment especially when they are meted out in such a capricious manner. It's time to either reduce the length of time for sin bins or scrap them all together.

  • Comment number 84.


    Firstly I think the team that finished the match deserve to start against France. I do not think Wales were far better than we were. I think they took advantage of the yellow cards (as good teams should).

    However what I sincerely hope is we get a fair rub of the green when it comes to refereeing decisions. While I don't have a problem with the yellow cards (both were deserved), Wales got away with murder. Example Chunks knock on in the first half, he knocked it on because Gethin Jenkins stuck his hand on it while he's lying in top of the ruck. Instead of a knock on it should have been a penalty to us plus a yellow card for deliberately slowing the play. All through the match you heard Poite shouting "hands off red" not once, not twice but three or four times. That's deliberately preventing quick ball and should result in a yellow card.

    There are three team I can think of that get away with this and surprisingly Scotland aren't one of them. We always seem to get pinged straight away. We need to (and I mean guys like your good self, along with Andy Nicol, Jim Telfer et al) but especially the SRU start highlighting these issues. We may sound like bad sports but unless we highlight this nonsense we'll always be at a disadvantage.

  • Comment number 85.

    We played better and deserved more - if it wasn't for our 15 minutes of madness.

    Like many posters I think the spine of the team is pretty good and like many the backline is our problem.

    I have read many posts about who should play in this back line and I am starting to get a little fed up with seeing the smae names moved around.

    To me the players in the back line should be in thier familiar position. We have had Evans, Lamonts move from centres to wings to fullback. You wouldn't play a flanker in the front row!?

    We need to blood some new players and stop trying the same chaps who have failed to deliver.

  • Comment number 86.

    @inappropriateopinions49 Why would we start with Godman when it's Laidlaw that's keeping Godman on the bench at Edinburgh Rugby?

  • Comment number 87.

    Please can all the posters berating Poite for not calling for the TMO just stop it. He wasn't allowed to. He made a call and it was wrong.
    Instead let's have a pop at Poite for his management of the clock. Too often in Six Nations matches refs forget to call time off for injuries and substitutions and seconds and minutes are lost out of the game. Small things they may be but when Scotland conceded that knock on at the end of first half there was still a minute to play. Tails were up and the Welsh were deep in their own half. An injury, a chat and a reset later and that minute had all but gone allowing wales to put the ball dead. Given that Scotland rarely run away with games I for one would rather have all the time available.
    That said the players probably prefer the rest.
    Restarts have been Scotlands problem for over a year. Either the coaches are poor or the players dont listen or are unable or unwilling to improve. Its that simple. How about a big white board on the changing room wall with RESTARTS on it. Last thing they see. First thing they remember? Small margins at this level. Just ask AR.
    As for the game Rennie was amazing and Hogg like Denton proving that injuries can make the coach look like a good selector.

  • Comment number 88.

    At the match yesterday and genuinely concerned at half time ( being welsh). i felt we were a little too cocky and tried to run the ball as if we expected to score tires at will. We declined a couple of penalty shots to kick for line early in the half. Then reality set in ...we were up against a well drilled and fired up outfit.

    Not enough is said about the psychology of teams in matches. A collective lack of concentration at the end of the first half into the second half was scotlands undoing. Dont underestimate fatigue as a big factor in letting mental errors creep in. I have seen a lot of what ifs and would have, could have , should have above. The reality is that Scotland are a good side without the mental toughness. The biggest missed opportunity was last week. As it happens we see the same fragility from Wales when they play the Southern Hemisphere sides (South Africa was a good example of total dominance without the coup de gras ). Sometimes you need some luck to flip the belief switch on. I think Scotland are good enough to win the next 3but will need some luck to turn their belief at critical moments.

    Good luck and well played

  • Comment number 89.

    I think you scottish boys need to get a grip. You were beaten by the better team on the day and Wales did not perform even to the 70% efficiency they showed in Dublin.

    Clutching at straws about forward passes, knock ons and bias referees. Sounds very much like the excuses put forward by many a "one eyed" welsh supporter in the 1990`s - early 2000's.

    The two yellow cards came about from blatant cheating and there were 16 referee's on the pitch at times. For a team that came to "outplay" Wales, they certainly did their share of killing the ball at the break down.

    Take the defeat on the chin guys and move on. You have some excellent players and sooner rather than later the wins will come.

  • Comment number 90.

    The Welsh game for me at least provided some positives after the England debacle but I think Robinson has serious question to answer. The selection of Cusiter was extremely poor. He takes an ages to clear the ball from the breakdown, the welsh could have nipped out for a pint and Cusiter would still be standing there deciding when to pass it. Madness to break up the Blair / Laidlaw combo in the first place. Sorry Chris but your best days are behind you.

    Hogg was exceptional when he came on I thought Rory Lamont was bigger threat on the wing (when on the field that is). Hogg and Denton have proved that they are old enough for 6N rugby, Matt Scott should be the next of the new brigade to be given his chance as I think we need a ball playing 12, Sean Lamont & Morrison are too one dimensional.

    The forwards should stay the same for France (Ross Rennie to me was exceptional) but with a week off I would be hitting the practice pitch with a more radical backline of Blair, Laidlaw, S Lamont, M Scott, M Evans, Jones and Hogg

  • Comment number 91.

    The ref gave the knock-on for Hogg's try based on Hogg's reaction. If he had reacted like he had scored a try the ref might have gone upstairs to check if there was any reason not to award the try. To me he looked like someone who had just knocked it on!!

  • Comment number 92.

    Agree John - this Scottish team is looking promising. The pace was mind blowing - hats off to the conditioning and commitment of our players - but Scotland is simply not dynamic enough.

    More fundamentally the writing has been on the wall for Scotland since the 90s - our back line has been a botch job ever since Lineen/Hastings and Leslie/Tait - back when we used to win championships (I was there in Paris in '99 - happy days).

    Just a thought but are there any promising NZ/Oz/Saffer centres with a Scottish grandparent fancy a well-paid extended holiday in Scotland? You'll get heaps of ball from an awesome pack and the thanks of a grateful nation. Any deep pocketed individuals fancy buying/sponsoring this player?

    On the subject of reffing - out of sight out of mind - we will have to suck up the poor decisions until we have three or so top Scottish refs influencing the international panel.

  • Comment number 93.

    @Frank Becker and @hungryhaggis and @inappropriateopinions49

    lets not resort to blaming on hands in the rucks and forward passes.

    Scotland done a great job of slowing ruck ball in the first half and most of the wasn't done legally. this is why garland told the boys half time to off load before contact to stop them having the opportunity which the welsh boys did very well.

    I, being welsh, also saw the forward pass that led to the line out.

    But, I also saw the forward pass that scotland made before their try.

    Don't resort to blaming the referee's as they get decisions wrong in every game and we all know that.

    If I was Scottish I would take much more out of this game than last weeks. Last week they let the coaches and the country down by their silly mistakes.

    This week they improved on that and upped their game.

  • Comment number 94.

    Why not Laidlaw at 9 and Weir at 10?
    Laidlaw can play scrum-half and is the chippy, terrier-ferretty type we need there.

    Oh to see a line-up with Ansbro & McVisser !!!

  • Comment number 95.

    Andy Robinson is in my opinion the best coach scotland have had for a long time, the players look like they have a game plan, even when it all goes wrong (sin bins, bad ref calls, knock ons near the line and not making the final pass stcik) then dont capitulate.....they dust themsleves off and come right back at the to the players and the coach. Scotland will come good, the attitude is spot on, composure in the red zone comes from confidence........there are creating the chances and they will make them...............and when they do hopefully Scotland can get this monkey off their backs. Andy Robinson doesnt have the biggest pool of players to pull from...........just look to how many scots made the last lions compete as they have shows that teamwork is greater than the sum of the parts............well done Andy Robinson

  • Comment number 96.

    Spot on John! I really enjoyed the game yesterday and thought our boys took it to a good Welsh team on their own turf. The new look of the future team is starting to come through with the 'forced' changes in the backs showing what the selection really should be. Shame about the errors, and it would've been very close if we'd avoided the yellows. I thought Rory Lamont otherwise put in a very good aggressive performance. Hogg was excellent and despite a few mistakes Laidlaw made life difficult for the Welsh. I thought we did very well to retain composure in the first ten minutes with the way that Wales came out and fiercely bossed the gain line. Assuming no new players are brought into the squad, surely we now must be looking at a back line of something like 9 Blair, 10 Laidlaw, 11 R Lamont, 12 S Lamont, 13 Ansbro/Evans (De Luca does some good things, but really does have some terrible howlers at this level), 14 Jones, 15 Hogg. It's a good set of players and chuck Matt Scott, Weir and McVisser in for the near future and I think we have reasons to be optimistic. Forwards were very good (Chunk's knock on aside). I think we may well get an upset against France or Ireland, and hopefully we won't drop our performance against Italy (especially since I'm going).

  • Comment number 97.

    We don't start matches well and we are even worse at the start of the 2nd half. This tells me that the coaches team talks are going badly wrong. Yesterday Wales obviously had a constructive half time team talk: they eliminated the knock ons and unforced errors that held them back in the first half. We came out muddled. We might have lost anyway but that muddle meant we had no chance.
    I worry when I see a coach ranting and raving as he watches. This is dreadful leadership. No one can think straight when they are ranting - ask any boxer! No wonder the half time team talks are disastrous. IF AR can't stop ranting he should keep away at half time and let the captain lead

  • Comment number 98.

    ... oh yes, and recognising when to tackle round the ankles => little man tackling bigger man !!

  • Comment number 99.

    Much, much better.
    Apart from two of our own brain fa*ts...(might get a yellow card for that)......we should have pressed the Welsh team a lot closer.

    Had read that ref (Poite) likes a game to flow and that he would let a lot of things go and not blow for penalties. Pretty sure the penalty count was pretty low. Wales played well but they were there for the taking. Our defense was very good and out attack was the best for a long time.

    Hogg, Denton, Rennie, Laidlaw, Jones all very good just a pity that Ansbro is out injured.

    Referee I think had a pretty horrendous game on reflection but we should have realised early on the way he wanted to play and adjusted accordingly. We should have done a Mike Phillips at every opportunity in the red zone and won some penalties and maybe even a yellow card for Wales for what was repeatedly hands on the ground (Chunks pick up was just that) and regular offside.

    We need the same commitment against the French and no brain f.......

  • Comment number 100.


    A few simple steps to help solve Scotland's lack tries:


    No need to tinker with the forwards. Andy is doing fine with them.

    Clearly the problem is backs. The midfield to be precise.

    To start, Sean Lamont is not an inside centre. He is a blunt weapon there. Instead play him at outside as a strike runner. Ansbro is also not an inside centre, but he could be a more affective outside centre. Likewise with Max Evans, who dancing feet are better in heavy midfield traffic than dancing out on the wing. Remember having Alan Tait outside you how could hit like and express train at the correct angle. That's what you need at 13. Watch Tait's lines of support during the 1999 season.

    Play Duncan Weir at inside centre as a distributor who will also take a lot of the pressure off Laidlaw at 10. Weir would play the Matt Giteau role if you like. Or he would be like John Leslie for you in 1999, remember he took all the pressure off you at 10 and allowed you to play with you head forward, because you knew what was going on behind you?

    Keep Blair at 9 and Laidlaw at 10.


    First phase: Do some backs moves off the top. This has to be done at first phase, while all the forwards are huddled together. Remember Tait's try against England in 1999! Ignore all those forwards who say we need phase play. It clearly isn't working. Let them do the grunt work up front, because the set peace is working well.

    Broken play: Supporting players either side of the ball must pre-empt the ball carrier making the break. By doing the ball carrier will make the break, as the defenders are also concentrating on the supporting players, and also when the break does happen they are immediately on hand to receive the ball on either side. The supporting players must be close on the shoulder of the ball carrier for two reasons. Firstly they run through and create the gap and pass to the supporting player is easy to make when you are running at full tilt. Please refer to any All Black try for further reference.

    If Scotland follows these simple steps, tries will follow.

    If you don't do what I am recommend and you continue with the flat hospital pass phase play keep possession mantra, then expect to see the same results as you have been getting.

    Yours sincerely,


    Trust me I know what I'm talking about.


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