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Can rejuvenated Scots beat the All Blacks?

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John Beattie | 19:54 UK time, Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Kamate, Kamate, Kora, Kora......can Scotland beat the All Blacks for the first time in a hundred years?

I'll get back to that but the predicted articles about Gregor Townsend, the Glasgow Warriors coach, being under pressure are appearing already. He's not actually, athough the entertainment value of the Warriors on Friday night was minimal with a beautiful new stadium contrasting with a game that would have passed an audition for the ugliest sister in Cinderalla. Edinburgh's win though was a beautiful thing and their first in Wales since 2009.

Methinks that Warriors will miss Richie Gray and his power. Having watched the rugby league immediately afterward I wish that rugby union teams would use more passes behind the obvious recipient to help generate width thanks to deception.

Rugby union is becoming far too crash bang (which is for another article) though the games have been improved due to the new scrummage engagement laws. "Crouch, touch, set!" seems to be working.

Back to the main topic and, as the seasons change, the leaves start to fall and you can see your breath, it's interesting that as we get under way in the northern hemisphere, the rugby season at the bottom half of the world nears its end. The Championship, as it's called, has the four great powers of southern hemisphere rugby lined up against each other, with Argentina the new team, as the culmination of their year.

New Zealand players performing the Haka

New Zealand won 49-3 at Murrayfield in 2010. Pic: SNS

You may want to argue with me all day but in my opinion southern hemisphere players are better than ours. Some of the most valuable players in French, English, Irish and Scottish teams are, actually, Kiwis, South Africans, Aussies, and a host of Samoans, Fijiians and Tongans.

Why this is the case, who really knows? Perhaps it's to do with the fact that, as water goes down a plug hole, it goes clockwise for them and ant-clockwise for us. Or is that myth? But England being the only northern hemisphere team to win the World Cup in 2003 is the evidence of our inferiority.

And you may not like this but I was glad England won.

So the All Blacks come to Murrayfield this November and that, bizarrely, will be their pre-season tour. The All Blacks are the World Cup holders. What a scalp it would be for Scotland.

After the summer tour where the revitalised Scots beat the Aussies, Samoa and Fiji, I think this is the best chance Scotland will ever have to beat a team like the Kiwis.

Reasons to be cheerful? Andy Robinson has become more ruthless. Skills coach Scott Johnson has brought in some basics to do with each part of a game linking with the other. There is a scrummage that can go forward. And, frankly, the team has to prove it can do it at home.

New Zealanders, I would guess, tour the world and expect to win. We have played the All Blacks 28 times since the first game in 1905, and the highlights for us have been two draws. Imagine that, the highlights are two draws. A no scoring draw in 1964 and twenty 25 points a piece in 1983. Both ancient history for you lot reading this, but I was at the game in 1983.

Worryingly, the record is particularly bad in the last five years with three games against the All Blacks in which we have scored 9 points, all kicks, and the All Blacks have put 121 points past us.

This is all useful knowledge with, in the background, the Scottish Rugby's target in the air. Their target for the Scottish rugby team is to win the next World Cup.

Contrasting our two countries is worthwhile. In New Zealand there are 147,000 players. In Scotland the target was to reach around 40,000 by 2012.

While New Zealand won the recent World Cup, Scotland failed to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in history.

And yet, and yet, I feel something happening.

The key, to me, is to get the national team together as often as possible before November. Part of the success of the summer tour was the very fact that the team trained together.

After all, what are Edinburgh and Glasgow for other than to prepare players for Scotland?

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the season to get its momentum.

If ever Scotland has a chance to beat the All Blacks, it's this November. You agree? Dene te, tanga ta, puhuru, huru....


  • Comment number 1.

    The Autumn internationals are an End of Season tour for the Southern Hemisphere sides surely?

    The Championship finishes in the first week in October, followed be Bledisloe Cup match III, followed by the Autumn Tests.

    They then break for Christmas (and the cricket season), with pre-season coming with the build-up to Super Rugby in March?

    I'd love to be proved wrong, but Scotland will be smashed by the AB's again this year. They have been far from their best during The Championship so far, but are 3/3 and will probably be 4/4 after this weekend.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good to see you back Mr Beattie,

    I agree wholeheartedly about Scotland, something is shifting. I know we're all terrified to say it, lest we tempt fate and herald another false dawn, but there are signs everywhere that the ill effects of the naughties are being reversed.

    The tour wins are the first and most tangible. The other home unions and partisan sections of the media have quietly yet dismissively discredited it as a mickey mouse tour, but the Australian team was pretty much the same one that put Wales to the sword three times in a row. It was, without doubt, one the biggest confidence building experience that these players will have ever had.

    Secondly the players themselves. We've always produced fantastic players, especially given our meagre numbers and resources, but the World Cup gave so many players a chance to play in the Rabo and, for the first time in over a decade, we seem to have more than paper thin cover in every position.

    Unfortunately we don't have a World Cup every year so new players won't continue to get their chance to shine. We all cry out for a third pro team but logistically and financially it just isn't possible. That's not going to change in a hurry.

    However, I think London Scottish represent an amazing opportunity for Scotland to gain a third pro team without the huge investment. They have, after all, produced more Lions captains and Scotland internationals than any other club in Britain. Not really a surprise considering London has 260,000 Scottish born residents, not to mention their Scottish qualified kids. Those two figures combined makes more Scots qualified players than Edinburgh and the Borders combined.

    Now that they've been reborn like the proverbial phoenix, and are only one league below the Aviva Premiership, I think the famously cautious SRU need to bite the bullet and put in a little cash and support.

    They've shown their intent by signing Phil Godman and the ridiculously underrated Jim Thomspon, unfortunately they can't field many more Scottish players because the RFU funding is dependant on them having 15 of the matchday 22 be English qualified. If the SRU did the same in reverse and matched that funding then the RFU couldn't say a word about it (finally EU labour laws working in our favour!). The cost of that funding? A measly 350k, that's a tiny fraction of the 3-4 million spent each year on Glasgow and Edinburgh, about the same amount Scotland spend on matchday entertainment, Scott Johnson's salary or 2 big name foreign players.

    With Scottish funding we could then send down the most promising young talent that can't get a look in at the 2 pro sides and expose them to top level rugby - and before anyone claims that the RFU championship isn't top level consider that last week London Scottish put 4 tries on a Newcastle outfit packed full of internationals who, were it not for the London Welsh saga, would have been playing in the Premiership.

    They have big ambitions and with a bit of funding could/should be looking for promotion to the Premiership. Then they'd be, at worst, our version of Connaught - a team of up-and-coming young talent or at best a third pro team to match Edinburgh and Glasgow.

    I'd love it if you used your influence to champion this idea and give a real push in the eyes of the public and SRU.

  • Comment number 3.

    Welcome back John! Though you'd got lost on all the Olympics histeria.

    Just a quick word to #2 Madmac. The SRU does not exist to keep London Scottish in business. The debate over SRU funding for London Scottish has been had and the decision taken. I suggest that you live with it and move on.

    The SRU has other priorities and amongst them are increasing the gate receipts at Glasgow and Edinburgh and managing the domestic game so that it gets better.

    The first of these priorities goes a long way to enabling the second as the second takes money, and lots of it, that nobody else is going to provide.

    The domestic game in Scotland needs to get better, much better, if the Premiership club blazers want to realise their ambitions of being professional clubs playing at the highest levels in Europe.

    Mark Dodson in his 1st year as CEO of the SRU has made a good start. He has listened to those around him, consulted with the coaches and clubs and formulated a plan that is realistic in many ways. He has created an atmosphere that is a sea change from that lorded over by Gordon McKie and his cronies. It is a platform from which Scottish rugby can start to make inroads into being amongst the best in the world at this game.

    He has given Edinburgh the resources to be able to compete in both the Rabo Direct Pro12 and the Heineken Cup an dhe is now doing the same with Glasgow. Their success is a primary objective because without it nothing of the plan holds together. Having the playing and coaching resources to ensure continued performance during the Autumn Internationals and 6 Nations is a must if the teams are to be in contention for honours at the end of the season.

    Turning now to John's question. Can Scotland win against the All Blacks this November? Much as I would like to think that victory is within our grasp this time around I still think that it is a win too far and one which is not such a great tradgedy if we lose. A win in that game would be fantastic and send some Scots into delerium for few days (months?).

    It is not beyond the bounds of possibility as Andy Robinson has been given the freedom to work the way that he wants. After the schackles of the previous incumbents were removed Andy was able to bring in the coaches and mentors that he thinks can make Scotland a winning team and provide that on a consistent basis.

    Overall, the players are better than they were a year ago and the teams are performing better than they were a year ago. We have more coming through to the top (but it still needs to be quicker in some cases).

    We have good reason to be optimistic this time around.

  • Comment number 4.


    "The SRU does not exist to keep London Scottish in business. The debate over SRU funding for London Scottish has been had and the decision taken. I suggest that you live with it and move on."

    I don't represent London Scottish or have any affiliation, I just think it's what the Americans would call a no-brainer.

    When was it discussed and by whom? Oh yeah by Gordon McKie. Yeah he made lots of great investments to help grow the game! He also made the decision not to have a third pro team. I assume that's set in stone too? We don't need to cut off our nose to spite our face.

    Actually they don't need help staying in business, they're doing very well at the moment. They're well run and are self sustainable. They get that 350k from the RFU now, they don't need the SRU's help. If anything they offer a far better opportunity to Scotland than they'd get in return.

    I fully support the Premiership clubs but they've never shown the ambition that London Scottish have unfortunately. We have a self sustaining professional club South of the Border. Why don't we use them!

    I would imagine your dislike for this scenario has more to do with the location of the team.

  • Comment number 5.

    While I agree that we're on the right track, better Scottish teams have tried and failed to beat the All Blacks. South Africa, in my opinion, is a more realistic target. Indeed, if I'm not mistaken, we would need to beat South Africa (or NZ) and Tonga to have any hope of top 8 seeding for the RWC 2015. Certainly plenty of motivation for the lads.

    Mind you, since our strategic plan has set a goal of winning the world cup, we'd better learn pretty quick how to beat the reigning champions. No time like the present!

    RE #2 and #3, London Scottish undoubtedly represents a good commercial opportunity, providing they can circumnavigate the RFU. If it's as simple as sticking in 350k I'm not sure why it hasn't happened already.. Ultimately the goal has to be 4 professional teams in Scotland but we've had to learn from our past mistakes of putting the cart before the horse.

  • Comment number 6.

    Female Yank here. I'm ready to see New Zealand fall and who better to bring about the end of that dynasty than the true underdog of Scotland? I say it's a bit early to suggest a win again the Kiwis, but I'm hoping for some serious crash bang action to at least ruffle those Kiwi feathers and put some doubt in their heads.

    Should they beat the odds and win: across the pond, it'll be Irn Bru and Johnnie Walker for everyone!

  • Comment number 7.

    well I've got my tickets.... and bringing some football buddies to convert them (they need to see the light !).

    I am not expected to win, that would be daft. I am tho expecting Scotland to put in a good performance and excited for what Scott Johnson can bring to the side in terms of our attacking play which has been woeful in recent years.

  • Comment number 8.

    Townsend never rated him as a player and now as coach. 0-4 says everything with basically the same squad of players as Lineen had. SRU we will forgive you if you return Lineen to his former post right now and apologise for the mistake.

    Scotland beat the AB, your having a laugh. Oh how quickly we forget the 6-nations results!!!!!!!! Three wins on a tour means nothing.

  • Comment number 9.

    We're a long way off beating the All Blacks even if the weather's horrendous and they send out a 'weaker' 2nd string side they will still have too much for our guys to handle.

    I still haven't seen us impose a crushing defeat on anyone yet, we still win & lose on small margins. Until we dominate a game, the opposition and the scoreboard I think we'll just have to settle with watching the AB's do their thing.

    Interesting points above about London Scottish but doubt it's as clear cut as just giving them £350k. Pretty sure the RFU wouldn't take kindly to a team in their league running things for the benefit of another union, probably end in some sort of court action or ejection of LS from the leagues.

    However another suggestion (as a point of discussion & devils advocate) would be LS moving into the Pro12? It's a cross border league anyway what's to say they couldn't be a London based Scottish side

  • Comment number 10.

    #But England being the only northern hemisphere team to win the World Cup in 2003 is the evidence of our inferiority.


    France was more than close to beat the All Blacks on their pitch at the last WC.

    Anyway, I have to agree, the SH is stronger than the SH...
    But like you, you'll be surprised that a French (me) supported England in 2003, because I did not like the game played by the Aussies at this time, and i wanted to see a NH side crowned at last...

    I'll be there with some french folks for the game the 11th of November, and I can't wait, and keep faith for an historic win! the Auld Alliance is still alive!

  • Comment number 11.

    Once again..Where does this optimism come from?? Too much socialising at the Olympics?
    What has changed since the 6 nations. 3 wins is a start, but against teams we should beat.
    Come on Mr B, any chance we have of beating New Zealand is when they decide to rest their top 25 players and even them we would struggle. Would Scotland compete in the super 15?? I think not..
    Another sorry tail of 29 games.. No wine.. End of


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