Andrew Cotter

Scottish lambs set for slaughter? (108)

Edinburgh - Murrayfield will be close to capacity, The Haka will will be performed by the All Blacks (in a nice light grey) and the Scotland team which lines up to face it will be far from full-strength.

The team which Scotland coach Frank Hadden has chosen is certainly not a surprise but it does offer plenty of talking-points.

Firstly, of course, is it the right thing to do? Former coach Ian McGeechan has said it is realistically the only option with the crunch Italian game following just six days after.

Yes, there is a ring of truth to Hadden's words about it not being a strict 'second 15' since it does contain Chris Paterson, Simon Webster and the returning Andy Henderson. And Scotland do have far better strength in depth across the board than they did two years ago.

But equally there is no doubt that perhaps only one or two positions are filled by the current first-choices for the jerseys.

And what about Scotland's new boys? The day before his 21st birthday, flanker John Barclay will earn his first cap against the world's best team. And also making his debut is prop Alasdair Dickinson, who coincidentally celebrated his birthday after joining the squad last week. Perhaps we could give party hats and streamers to Chris Masoe and Carl Hayman.

So the final question is simply what would be a good result for Scotland? - any professional sporting team will still talk of possible victory, but can Scotland even hope for that with this line-up, against a side which they have never beaten?

Is it instead a case of hoping for an honourable defeat? - one which doesn't shred carefully-nurtured confidence ahead of the showdown with Italy.

That would be a strange way for any Scotland side and Scottish supporters to be approaching a game at Murrayfield. But the way the draw for this World Cup has worked out, Frank Hadden and Scotland may have been forced into exactly that situation.

Andrew Cotter is a BBC Sport commentator specialising in rugby union and golf. He is covering Scotland at the World Cup for Radio 5live and you can see the station's full broadcast schedule here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:42 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • gus wrote:

absolutely the right thing to do! its a squad playing a tournament not a series of one off games. we have to get to the quarters.

  • 2.
  • At 06:54 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • gus wrote:

absolutely the right thing to do! its a squad playing a tournament not a series of one off games. we have to get to the quarters.

  • 3.
  • At 06:56 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Jon D wrote:

Yep, lambs for the slaughter, but Hadden had no choice, the All Blacks would have carved us apart no matter who we fielded so may as well give the second string a run out and keep the big guns for games we actually have a chance of winning.

  • 4.
  • At 07:02 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Archie Owen wrote:

As a Scottish fan, i would Love it if Scotland beat the All Blacks but realistically i think denying them a bonus point and maybe getting a bonus point for themselves is a valid target for the Scottish team

  • 5.
  • At 07:09 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • andy wrote:

Scotland should put their best team out.People are paying good money to see this match and I am sure they don't want to pay to see a walkover.
It's like surrendering before you get on the pitch.I was hoping Scotland would give the All Blacks a game.

  • 6.
  • At 07:10 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • paul wrote:

Although it might be the professional approach to making the quarter finals I think this decision will stick in throat of a lot of scotland supporters. Murrayfield will be filled with a crowd who paid a lot of money to see what they hoped would be a full-strength scotland side go toe-to-toe with the best team in the world. While we have never beaten the All-Blacks and they look a class apart from every other team (except maybe SA)in the tournament and we have to play Italy 6 days later, it is still going to sting, knowing that players like White, Hogg and Taylor aren't going to get their shot at the rugby immortality that would come with a victory. We better give it hard to Italy and then make some kind of a mark on the later-stages, otherwise there will be a lot of very disgruntled and skint scotland fans who might not be jumping at the chance to spend their money at Murrayfield in the future.

  • 7.
  • At 07:19 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • paul wrote:

Well, can't say I was surprised about the side. Tough ask for two boys to make their debuts against the All Blacks, but I shudder at the thought of one of their players on the charge, with only MDR between him and the line. MDR looked really out of sorts last time out.

Maybe it is the right call. But fielding this team feels a bit disrepectful to the tournament.

Suppose we end up losing to Italy? How will we all feel about not even giving it a proper go at the All Blacks then?

  • 8.
  • At 07:20 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • gavin wrote:

It's not about getting TO the quaters but getting THROUGH the quarters. Why has no-one looked at the draw?

If France are runners-up in their group, they play New Zealand. Scotland would fancy their chances of beating a stuttering Argentina. They would be thye Northern Hemisphere's sole representatives.

That really would be a turn up eh?

  • 9.
  • At 07:22 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • melv wrote:

My heart rules my head here but as a passionate rugby fan I hoped to see the best of our boys take on the mighty AB's. They have shown us true respect by fielding their 'big guns' after all. As a ticket buying fan also, I do feel a bit cheated as I am not going to see our first choice, available 15. Surely if we have any confidence in our ability to go far in this tournament we have to back ourselves to beat Italy with whatever side we field?? Let's hope we DO put Italy to bed then all this team selection business will be forgotten!

  • 10.
  • At 07:23 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • DaveR wrote:

Definitely lambs to the slaughter and I'm afraid the All Blacks won't take too kindly to playing Scotland reserves and will not hold back, It could be a cricket score if we're not careful! I still think it's the right thing to do but don't u just know that Paterson will end up being carried off injured i.e. the one player we don't rest!

  • 11.
  • At 07:25 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Scott Riddoch wrote:

Brave choice a chance for the boys to show the world on the biggest stage that scotland have the squad and not only just one or two top players that can go all the way this year !! Good Luck it will be the biggest game of there lives !!

  • 12.
  • At 07:29 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Roy wrote:

A terrible selection. It devalues the whole tournament, and short changes the Scottish fans who have shelled out lots of money to attend. And with Italy's form so far, its completely unnecessary.

  • 13.
  • At 07:43 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • James Maclean wrote:

Gutted and I feel cheated, allw ell and good for the people who can afford to watch the 'proper' Scotland team take on Italy but for those of us who have piad a fotune in travel, tickets, missed work and accomodation this is a joke. Had he just told us this was what he'd do then I'd have saved my money and gone to France for the Italy game. No wonder fans are leaving Scottish rugby

  • 14.
  • At 07:58 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Scott Richards wrote:

Steady guys, you could have seen this coming as soon as the draw was made, so you can't genuinely be acting all shocked and disapointed now. It's the best decision to give us a shot at reaching the semi's. I support Frank and I've supported Scotland through thick and thin; that's what being a supporter is all about.

  • 15.
  • At 08:01 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Roger wrote:

I agree, it devalues the team and the tournament. 4 years ago Wales played their best 15 against NZ in the group and at one stage looked like they might give them a touch up before fading in the last quarter. Come on Frank, show some guts!

  • 16.
  • At 08:22 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

Not fielding a side to maybe upset the All Blacks shows that there is no desire to go anywhere in this tournament. You have to go for the win, or you've just conceded the tournament to begin with.

  • 17.
  • At 08:42 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mo wrote:

for goodness sake what is wrong with Scottish rugby supporters.
Frank Hadden can chose any team that he wants and as things have turned out he has chosen an excellent side with some great new players who will get to cut their teeth on the legendary AB,s. What a memory and what an honour to be a fan at Murryfield who will get to witness this. Stop all winging about all the money you have spent. You are very lucky that there are games happening in Scotland and you should be ashamed at the turnout against Romania on the 18th. Good luck on Sunday lads, enjoy your day.

  • 18.
  • At 08:49 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • John Mc Donald wrote:

My memory of the last World Cup is that Wales fielded a second strength squad against the All Blacks, for the same reason as Scotland is facing now. This resulted in one of the best matches in the competition as the Welsh team who felt they had nothing to lose went out and gave the All Blacks a game to remember

  • 19.
  • At 08:50 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

There's been a lot of talk about how weak this side is but we're all just looking at the gap between the AB and Italy games. However we should look at the gap between the Romania and AB games. Now, I'm sure the ABs would like to play a side who had only had 4 rest days. Sure this side consists mostly of our second choices but they are fresh and the fall of in performance will hopefully be lessened by that factor.

I'm sure Frank Hadden would have loved to put out a well rested full strength side - but he can't and I think he has done the right thing. Blame the RWC schedulers for this situation not Scotland and don't imagine for a second that Italy Wales or Ireland wouldn't do exactly the same.

  • 20.
  • At 09:04 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

As a Scot living in NZ its a wee bit embarassing. Kiwis dont really have any respect for Scotland at full strength anyway, and I was hoping against hope that we could turn them over at Murrayfield and give them a few digs back. But this team will never beat the all blacks. NZ in full flow are a force of nature and - no disrespect as i'll support anyone in a scotland shirt - but a rookie scotland squad cant expect to beat them for the first time ever.

Saying all that, i hope i'm proved wrong.

'Mon the Scots!!

  • 21.
  • At 09:29 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • David Robertson wrote:

Scotland are in second place in the entire tournament so far to South
Africa, in points against, after two games, 10 for the Scots and 7 for the Springboks. Even the mighty All Blacks are at 27. Defence against the ABs is crucial so whatever the Scots are doing I hope they keep it up. The team may well surprise everyone.

  • 22.
  • At 09:41 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • irvin flaherty wrote:

Glad to see the Scots are giving the Italians due respect. Lets just hope that the Italians treat them with the contempt that they deserve. The Scots have no chance against the mighty New Zealand team and think that they can beat the Italians? Now let me see, what is their recent record like against the Italians? Is there another way to get into the quarter-finals? Oh well, never mind maybe 4 years time.

  • 23.
  • At 09:50 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • afterburner33 wrote:

Well as a NZ'er living in the UK, and who will be at Murrayfield tomorrow, I fully understand what the Scottish team are doing. The Italy game is a crunch one for them, and we wish Scotland well for the remainder of the tournament. Having said that, we believe we would win easily tomorrow whatever team Scotland put out - we just like to see the All Blacks score tries and win games!

  • 24.
  • At 09:55 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • ryan lack wrote:

i think this whole negative thinking bout losing is stupid. If you play the game with a negative attitude you have all ready lost. Even with a "second" choice team we should still give them a challenge for the win and the bonus points shouldn't come into it.

  • 25.
  • At 09:57 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

I must disagree with Roger and second what John McDonald said about the NZ-Wales group match in 2003 World Cup. Wales did exactly the same as Scotland are doing now; namely rested most of their first-choice team for their later match with Italy. As it turned out, with the pressure off, that "second-string" Welsh side played so well (holding the lead with only a quarter of the game left) that many of its members made the first-choice team against Italy and the QF against England.

Let's be honest, Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks in their history, and this is probably the strongest All Blacks side in history, so Scotland's chance of pulling off an upset even with their best players is basically zero. Why not take the pressure off and perhaps get a spirited "Wales 2003"-style performance; and give themselves a much better shot against Italy. They might even unearth a couple of decent players in the process.

  • 26.
  • At 10:02 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • ryan lack wrote:

i think this whole negative thinking bout losing is stupid. If you play the game with a negative attitude you have all ready lost. Even with a "second" choice team we should still give them a challenge for the win and the bonus points shouldn't come into it.

  • 27.
  • At 10:03 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Alan Cook wrote:

All this defeatist moaning is nonsense - we should all get behind the team, whichever players are on the park they represent our hopes and dreams. The team have all earned their right to run out there and have a go against the All Blacks -Intae them Lads! Let's see some spirit.

  • 28.
  • At 10:04 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Jim from Croydon wrote:

I can't help feeling that by giving all the squad a run FH will do a lot more for team spirit than EOS did for Ireland by perpetually playing the same players to extinction and leaving lots of guys wonderig why they were on the trip.

  • 29.
  • At 10:08 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • expat scot wrote:

no offence to the team selected but frank conceding defeat before the kick off is ludicrous the blacks will run up a cricket score against us here and then we may well lose to italy anyway. if this happens as a coach he should do the honourable thing. it would be much better to risk having lost both honourably than try to be clever, lose both and just end up looking stupid!

  • 30.
  • At 10:09 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Jim from Croydon wrote:

I can't help feeling that by giving all the squad a run FH will do a lot more for team spirit than EOS did for Ireland by perpetually playing the same players to extinction and leaving lots of guys wonderig why they were on the trip.

  • 31.
  • At 10:12 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Murphy wrote:

While I can agree that the scheduling has done Scotland no favours (a mandatory 6 day gap between games should be enforced for all teams), what Frank's approach has done is basically tell everyone that we have no chance of ever beating the All Blacks, and that getting out of the group stages is our only ambition. We have to think higher - beating or restricting the ABs would be a springboard to something bigger, and we have to think that a QF or SF place is within our grasp, after which anything is possible. Scotland have never made a final - THAT should be the ambition, and it starts with never taking the mindset that a game is impossible to win.

Murrayfield has been shamefully far from full over the last few years, and this won't help on top of the ridiculously high prices the IRB/RWC set for this game. If I'd bought a ticket, I'd be disappointed.

  • 32.
  • At 10:14 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • D. Hunter wrote:

The debate about what team to play is one thing but having made the decision to play an under strength one, why on earth is Hadden risking our most valuable player and match winner. Chris Paterson, the one player we should be protecting at all costs is being thrown in against Richie McCraw et al, without the suppost of our best players. It is sheer madness!

  • 33.
  • At 10:35 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

Is it any surprise when the IRB continue to pander to the big name nations? I know TV money is vital to the prosperity of rugby, but given the performances of the "minnows" thus far in France 2007, just think what they could do with a proper schedule where teams are treated fairly.

As a Scotland fan, I'm a wee bit disappointed. However, I'd like to see what happens if a reserve player steps up and plays a blinder - who will Hadden rely on for the Italy game?

  • 34.
  • At 10:49 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • mwgolds wrote:

It is such a shame the the RWC has become what it has. Realistically 3, perhaps 4, sides that can win it, and every other team "aiming for the quarters". Kudos to Argentina. They appear to be the only non-top tier team giving it a red hot go. Until the WC becomes a 10 team tournament where every game is important and their are no 'gift games' it'll be a case of this sort of thing for the likes of Scotland. Avoid the big teams and try and smash / get bonus points against the weaker ones and scrap by against equally mid-range mediocre teams. This sort of defeatism in picking a second string side is pathetic. If you never challenge yourself against the best you will never become the best.

  • 35.
  • At 10:58 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Having just watched a underpefroming Irish team, NZ have nothing to fear from the Scottish. Best outcome for the Scots? - keeps the score under 80!!!

  • 36.
  • At 11:30 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • E.Gibson wrote:

The All Blacks are the best in the world by a long way. Scotland are starting to show real promise but lets not get carried away. Qualification and a decent QF performance would be a fantastic achievement but if we lose 4 or 5 of our top guys to injury then we probably don't have the strength in depth to compete and the Italy game may go the wrong way. A good selection decision and one that shows REAL courage. Forget glorious defeats and start to think like winners.
If we manage to play to our full potential then we can field our full team in the Semis :) Good luck guys

  • 37.
  • At 11:31 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Phill wrote:

As a Kiwi in New Zealand I understand what Scotland is doing,
I think the schedule in very unfair to smaller rugby nations.
And it does pander to bigger nations even if
(In the Abs case)
We don’t need or want this pandering.
We have the squad that can play 3 games in 15 days.
The Abs can easily put out two world class teams, but we don’t get to.
And as Fans waiting 8 days for the next game is very frustrating.
Portugal had to play 3 games in 15 days, which for most teams is tough,
But for them was asking way too much.

In the words of the immortal Victor Meldrew "I don't believe it". We have spent ages effectively covering our eyes during matches because of the weakness of first teams fielded representing Scotland and finally have a squad where there are arguments over the best selection for most positions. The side that is due to face the ABs are much better than many I've seen as first team choices in recent years and I'm absolutely sure they won't let Scotland down. Let the ABs worry about injuries: let them feel that all they have to do is to turn up in order to win. Be proud - support our team and our country. Scots wha hae!

  • 39.
  • At 11:43 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mack wrote:

Scotland will Win! The All Blacks are expecting a cakewalk. They are in for a shock as well as a hurricane at Murrayfield. There will be a lot of rain, mud and blood. Get ready for a major upset!

  • 40.
  • At 11:46 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Whilst I'm dissapointed not to see Scotland really go for the All Blacks, this is the plan that makes the most sense. We have to beat Italy, whatever happens on sunday. Interestingly if Scotland do make the quarter finals I'd say they have the best chance of any of the home nations of making the semis, a result which would have seemed impossible during the 6 nations. But first we have to qualify from the group.

Reading through the team I was surprised to find it a good deal stronger than I thought we could field. Di Rollo (and maybe Walker) aside it's a team that I believe will really make a good game. I'm particularly expecting a strong game from Cusiter who most relish a chance to start.

  • 41.
  • At 11:49 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • Mack wrote:

Scotland will Win! All ye faint of heart. The All Blacks are expecting a cakewalk. They are in for a shock as well as a hurricane at Murrayfield. There will be a lot of rain, mud and blood. Get ready for a major upset!

  • 42.
  • At 11:54 PM on 21 Sep 2007,
  • MattC wrote:

I'm a bit annoyed about this selection. I have tickets for this match and was expecting to see the best two teams in this group put out full strength teams.

What need does Henry now have to put out players like Carter, McCaw, etc for this match. Keep them fresh for France in the quarters.

I am paying £80 for a ticket, £50 for a flight and £50 for a hotel in Edinburgh. Is this good value to see Scotland 2nd XV vs NZ 2nd XV?

I didn't agree with NZ putting out the seconds against Portugal, it is this kind of match that damages the reputation of RWC, makes Scotland look weak (not expecting to beat NZ so puting out a weak team).

  • 43.
  • At 12:03 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Murray wrote:

If Frank Hadden thinks this is the best way for Scotland to proceed into the next round then I support him fully.
Stop disrespecting those players who have been picked to represent Scotland against the Kiwis.
It is a long tournament and you can not play your "best" players every game.
What about injured players playing versus not quite recovered players versus potential aggravation to a possible injury?
Let the coach do his job!

  • 44.
  • At 12:46 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • andrew webber wrote:

My first thought was that playing the second string was not a good idea. It reminded me of the recent habit of nothern hemisphere teams sending out second strings on tour in the south to get tonked. These had little value and may have contributed to the lack of competitiveness of current northern hemi teams.

This does also devalue the world cup some what. Scotland want a good performance against the AB even if they do eventually loose by a large score. Hopefully the 2nd string will stand up but playing more first team players would have been better (even if this means replacing later in the match).

  • 45.
  • At 12:53 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • andrew webber wrote:

My first thought was that playing the second string was not a good idea. It reminded me of the recent habit of nothern hemisphere teams sending out second strings on tour in the south to get tonked. These had little value and may have contributed to the lack of competitiveness of current northern hemi teams.

This does also devalue the world cup some what. Scotland want a good performance against the AB even if they do eventually loose by a large score. Hopefully the 2nd string will stand up but playing more first team players would have been better (even if this means replacing later in the match).

  • 46.
  • At 12:54 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Buzz wrote:

It's a national disgrace. A first choice Scotland team would've made a game of it at least. Scotland have looked the brightest of the home unions thus far. Now we'll see a total thrashing in front of 64,000 paying spectators (like MattC)at Murrayfield.

They should've fronted up to NZ, taken it on the chin and then re-grouped and beaten Italy, which they would have been capable of. That way Scotland could have learned something about themselves and we could have seen a decent spectacle.

I see the reasoning from Hadden but it still sucks and it's disingenuous of him to suggest that it's not a 2nd XV he's putting out.

  • 47.
  • At 01:19 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Bain wrote:

To field what amounts to a Scottish Selection against New Zealand's full first team may well be strategically correct but it is morally indefensible.

The essence of this tournament is about the best teams in the world endeavouring to perform at the highest levels - at all times.

FH's decision is also psychologically doubtful. A worthy performance against the All Blacks would have really raised the team going into the Italian game. By conceding defeat well before the first kick - with the resulting possibility of a humiliation - may well have the opposite effect, regardless of the injuries avoided.

Here was an opportunity for Scotland's best to test themselves against the most exciting team in rugby history. We declined.

I admit to a little selfishness in that I paid nearly £300 for two tickets and have looked forward to this match for months. Perhaps understandably, I feel somewhat cheated.

  • 48.
  • At 01:22 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • SafeHands wrote:

What a load of nonsense, Hadden did what he had to do. Does Paul Murphy realise that if (and when) Argentina top their group; finishing 2nd in ours may actually be beneficial?? Expat Scot (with typical expat 'chipping in' from abroad) claims it would be best to lose both games honourably. Really?? Do you honestly believe that? That it would be better to drop out of the tournament althogether than play a changed line-up against the all blacks??

All this will be forgotten if we beat the Italians; which is, and always has been from the start, our primary goal. And if we do, you've gotta fancy a fresher Scotland XI to beat an Ireland or, more likely, an Argentina XI who have just battled to the death to get through their group.

Here's hoping this pays off for Hadden. Im 100% behind him. There's no honour in putting everything into beating AB's and getting put out by the italians as a result; we live in the professional age.

Ps. I have no sympathy for those plastics who shelled out their 80 quid for you weren't there to support the boys in the less glamourous games this summer against ireland, sa or indeed romania!

No surprise, but a shame that winning at all costs wins again...we can't realistically hope to beat the All blacks, but it would be better to match up our best team and let the boys see where they have to go.

It would be fairer to our great support also. I wish I had a ticket, but if I had I would be expecting to see our best against their best.

As it stands, they will be professional, but surely spurred on to make a point and give our 2nd team a lesson, and a message - don't diss us like that...100 point spread anyone..?

  • 50.
  • At 02:06 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Derek Mathieson wrote:

I fully support Hadden's decision

This is not a one off game but a six week tournament and I feel for the first time since 91 we have a good chance of being at the sharp end.

Has nobody else considered that if the All Blacks actually win this game and te group the chances are they will have a more difficult quarter final given that its unlikely France will top their group.

  • 51.
  • At 02:18 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • bauldy wrote:

Just listen to Graham Henry and Steve Hansen (The Groucho Club) whinge about Hadden's selection. Have the all blacks being playing a consistent first team for the past twelve months let alone the past two weeks? Erm, not loikley mayte!

  • 52.
  • At 02:26 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • KiwiSteve wrote:

As an ABs fan I'm disappointed Scotland haven't fronted. Although they have never beaten the ABs Scotland always play with pride and passion. Were's the pride and passion now ? There is no dignity in conceding defeat before you even start. If you can't even beat Italy 5 days after playing the ABs don't pretend you are contenders. I'd be gutted if I was a Scottish fan. You will get done by 50+ points by the ABs - no disrespect intended. Scotland just doesn't have the depth to field 2 decent teams.

  • 53.
  • At 03:39 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Derek Mathieson wrote:

As much as I like to win every game I'm also glad that this is the first time ever that we have played the All Blacks in a pool match and that losing does not mean the end of our tournament.

I think its also useful that these players are getting a run,Hadden shows quite a bit of savvy - something that maybe even the mighty All Blacks have not shown when it come to 'Tournament rugby'

  • 54.
  • At 03:47 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

Three things are true.

Scotland's concern, about the threat posed by Italy, is not shared by any team with any real hope of winning this event.

It MAY be better to come second in this group than to win (though if Ireland deny Argentina any points France will win it) - so Scotland's decision may have strategic advantages (even if it is inspired by a sense of inadequacy).

Scotland has better depth than a for awhile.

The fourth may be true.

Scotland had the chance of beating the AB's for the first time, if they had played their best side. The AB's are a game or two short of getting back to top competitive match rugby and are vulnerable. They will struggle in the QF if they play France (though will probably win albeit unconvincingly).

I do not see Scotland having as good a chance again in my lifetime.

  • 55.
  • At 04:03 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Brian Thomson wrote:

Why all the defeatist talk.
Okay he is resting our so called big guns, but the team he is fielding are not a bunch of kids that are going to be steam rollered into the ground.
After the dust has settled and this Scotland TEAM has done us proud I hope all the doubters will be big enough to come back and apologise for assuming defeat is the only outcome.

This team is full of professionals pulling on a SCOTLAND jersey, what gives anyone the right to have it defeated before it begins, this just might be a platform for a performance never to be forgotten.

Come on guys, make these doubters eat there words.

"Alba Mo Thir Gu Bas"

  • 56.
  • At 05:55 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • julian wrote:

its no wonder scotland have never beaten NZ, if when faced with a home match, no injuries and good form they do this. why not just concede the match so all team will be fresh against Italy.

  • 57.
  • At 06:31 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • eric hunt wrote:

Tasteful journalism? Nice title to this piece I am sure the beleagured farming community really appreciate this as yet another foor and mouth case hits the presses.

  • 58.
  • At 08:08 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • jamie wrote:

Terrrible selection. Poor people who paid a fortune for the tickets! I almost did - glad I didnt!
We should be playing for two things-the bonus point and what's that thing called again...oh yeah pride!
Wonder what Sole, Jeffries, Armstrong and co truly feel about a selection like this! I am embarassed!

  • 59.
  • At 08:32 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Rich Coulter wrote:

OK, here are my predictions - which would you choose?

Top team:

NZ 30 Scotland 12

Key players hurt/injured/knackered

Struggle v pumped up Italy

Possibly flying home

Hadden's team

NZ 30 Scotland 12 (2nd string really pumped up, nothing to lose)

Scotland 20 Italy 7

Scotland 16 Argentina 9

We're in the semis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 60.
  • At 09:15 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Chris walker wrote:

The only realistic & professional choice for Haddon. I am going to the game and it will be a cracking day - who ever wins!

  • 61.
  • At 09:24 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Stuey wrote:

Agree with 58 above. Come on guys... we're not running away... we're potentially losing a necessary battle to progress in the war. Just think about the prospect of a Scotland AB final! Get behind the tactical decision and support Frank and the boys taking the field on Sunday. Anything less is disrespectful!

  • 62.
  • At 09:44 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • daniel baker wrote:

if scotland are to have any chance of winning against new zealand they must give rory lamont a lot of the ball and when they get a penalty go for the posts because chris paterson will not miss scotland must keep either rokocoko or sivivatu out of the game depending on who it is that will play i also think that they cant give away stupid penalties because remember dan carter is the best fly-half in the world

  • 63.
  • At 09:49 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • derek belm wrote:

I've been impressed with Hadden up to now, but not anymore.

The whole squad will be affected by a 70-point mauling at the hands of NZ (if that is what happens, obviously). They will all feel that kind of result and that is what they will take forward into the game against Italy.

The Scots and Italians are hard to separate - both are unpredictable and you suspect they thrive on the confidence (or otherwise) gained from their last result. I can't help thinking the Scots are shooting themselves in the foot. Italy hasn't played well so far, but they are capable of raising their game for a one-off like the final group match with the Scots.

Arguably, the Welsh team are still paying - both on and off the field - for the pre-RWC debacle against England. We look stifled and lacking in confidence. I fear that could well happen to the Scots for effectively giving up on the NZ match.

They've thrown in the towel. What does that do for morale?

  • 64.
  • At 10:18 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • LLcoolJason wrote:

I didd-appointed that we won't get to measure our best team against all blacks but after thinking about what FH has done i can now see the merits. He gets to give young talented players a chance to gain some invaluable experience & at same time saves the 1st team from a potential pyschological scar of being hammered by them. The Italy game is the one that if we need to win so he has given us the best chance of doing that & as mentioned the odds on getting argentina in qtrs looks good so there could be some big games ahead. All blacks in past have been guilty of poor squad management hence no success in recent years so they should shut up & do talking on pitch & show that they deserved a better match instead of whining before a ball is kicked.

  • 65.
  • At 10:20 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

I can't help but think Scotland have missed a trick here..
Could it not be the case that this is Scotland's 'World cup final'. At home against the potential world champions, Scotland's first team have the muscle to compete at least and Murrayfield and the Scottish rugby fan needs something to shout about. The SRU need to get the fans back in the stadium. None of this will be possible with a quarter final in France, but at Murrayfield it might light a much needed spark in the embers of Scottish Rugby.

  • 66.
  • At 10:30 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • rick wrote:

In my mind, and I may still be dreaming, that the biggest shock is because the side is so different from the previous 2 games. If Haddon had selected that pack against Ireland all those weeks ago most people would have accepted it on the basis that we're going for mobility, rather than grunt. We only have one sure selection in the pack at thats Jason White and I don't think there's that much separating the other 7 positions. One could argue that the form back row in Scotland last season was Barclay, Callam, Brown.

Squad rotation in the forwards is a must at this stage, even the AB's are doing that. I don't agree with resting the 2 Lamont, the backs should be at full strength.

The players won't see themselves as second string, they'll be ready and up for it. Good luck lads.

  • 67.
  • At 10:36 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • rick wrote:

In my mind, and I may still be dreaming, that the biggest shock is because the side is so different from the previous 2 games. If Haddon had selected that pack against Ireland all those weeks ago most people would have accepted it on the basis that we're going for mobility, rather than grunt. We only have one sure selection in the pack at thats Jason White and I don't think there's that much separating the other 7 positions. One could argue that the form back row in Scotland last season was Barclay, Callam, Brown.

Squad rotation in the forwards is a must at this stage, even the AB's are doing that. I don't agree with resting the 2 Lamont, the backs should be at full strength.

The players won't see themselves as second string, they'll be ready and up for it. Good luck lads.

  • 68.
  • At 10:42 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • LLcoolJason wrote:

If you took out di-rollo then this team look exciting in that it is very mobile & fast. Predict 45-20 for kiwis.

  • 69.
  • At 10:43 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Philip Church wrote:

Mack (38) is dreaming

  • 70.
  • At 10:44 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Robsy B wrote:

How on earth can Di Rollo be put in our national team nevermind proffessional team. He is the weakest link by far and the worst centre to ever be selected by Scotland (and we've had a lot of bad ones). Good news however is apparently Tom Philip is getting back into rugby after his long spelll off due to injury. Maybe there is hope to come. . . .

  • 71.
  • At 10:47 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • scott wrote:

100% correct decision (actually 90%, Di Rollo is still indefensible, why not give Webster more time at Outside Centre).

Hadden is thinking bigger than one game. We're not just planning for Italy, but potentially for later in the tournament, should that come. To all the people who think we've thrown the game though, who said anything about losing.

If the IRB want to make money by having the 'big' nations play at weekends then they're reaping the cost of their own scheduling. A 5 day then 6 day gap is not enough for 2 big games.

When Wales played a 2nd string in 2003, the confidence they gained, the attacking style of play they then adopted, and the players that came through, e.g. Shane Williams, probably led in no small part to their 2005 Grand Slam.

The big plus though, when we meet New Zealand in the final, they won't have a clue about out first XV ;-)

  • 72.
  • At 11:03 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Hugh Shannon wrote:

I see that NZ have made 12 changes from their last game. Any complaints about that? Have they strengthened for this game? Which would mean they were 'weakened', relatively speaking of course, for their last game. I didn't hear any complaints about that. Exactly the right thing to do Frank, good luck to you and the boys, heads up Warriors and will be shouting on the Hawks this afternoon.

  • 73.
  • At 11:49 AM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Bain wrote:

SafeHands offered a bet that the 'plastics' who shelled out small fortunes for the All Blacks game had no right to complain about Hadden's selection if they hadn't put in regular attendances at Murrayfield.

Having sat through all of Scotland's minor triumphs and major disasters at the Edinburgh ground and elsewhere for several years, I'll take him up on his wager.

But SafeHands raises an interesting point in suggesting that only those who contribute regularly to the financial welfare of Scottish rugby are the voices that should be heard.

Regardless of the justification, by fielding a second string team, Hadden has denied Scotland's long-term and long-suffering active supporters what could have been a spectacular encounter. Others, armchair enthusiasts among them, may think differently.

Hadden's decision is arrogant and insulting, a slap in the face to Scotland's most loyal supporters. He is clearly and unnecessarily terrified of the Italians, haunted by that Six Nations debacle when we gave away 21 points in the first seven minutes.

Had that never happened, I am sure FH would be fielding a full first team against New Zealand. Tomorrow we will be paying the price of his anxiety.

  • 74.
  • At 12:22 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • norrie59 wrote:

Blame the schedule - not Frank Hadden. A lot of these players were 1st choice 6 months ago - they want back - I'm not in favour of playing a weakened team but I am in favour of playing your full squad when you have 3 games in 11 days. Didn't New Zealand do this to us at Murrayfield last time they were over? Are our fans so lacking in knowledge that they didn't factor in this possibility when they bought the ticket? Can't go but will be travelling 100k to Vienna to watch it in a pub. One last point - what's conservative about playing 2 out of 3 of your most crucial players? Paterson was the one player I really wanted to be left out of this & saved for Italy. Sorry another one - the area where we have weakened the side most is the back row. All 3 have had serious long term injuries which have hampered our teams progress in the past - they need rest.

  • 75.
  • At 12:39 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Badger wrote:

Get a grip guys - we want to go as far as we can in the tournament, and whether we beat/compete with/get hammered by the ABs counts for nothing at the end of the day if we then lose to italy or (worse in a way) limp out in a q-f we have a great chance of winning. Hadden is a pragmatist and thats what's needed in a top international coach these days.

And by the way I still think to-morrow's game will be a cracker.

  • 76.
  • At 12:43 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • aberdeen loon wrote:

This selection is not defeatist in fact its the opposite - Hadden is now looking at a realistic chance for Scotland to get right to the end of this competiiton and meeting NZ again. What would be the point in giving potential future opposition prior knowledge of your strengths (and weaknesses) in advance of the biggest game in Scotland's history? Get behind the man!

  • 77.
  • At 12:51 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • jock wrote:

Whilst I fully understand all the reasons why Hadden has done this, when I have forked out £360 for tickets several months ago, I am well narked that I will not be seeing Scotland at there strongest (and girlfriend annoyed that the Lamont Bros are not there!). Plus the 700 mile round trip from Englandshire. As others have said, will we be a touch peeved if we don't make it against Italy?

  • 78.
  • At 01:04 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Whitey wrote:

I was disappointed to see the selection being one of the (now) fairly occassional visitors to Murrayfield who has got a ticket. I hold perhaps an old fashioned view that every game is a match in its own right and we should give it our best shot. We can field second string teams for easier games - as long as it comes off! This is a superb opportunity to play the best team in the world, the SRU have obviously pushed to get a game at Murrayfield to get bigger crowds and I think the selection should honour that.
We can paint different "what if" scenarios of who we might meet in the next round - its all a bit risky and the worst scenario of the lot is to get hammered by AB AND lose to Italy - we will be out AND have confirmed we have no confidence in ourselves. If our boys perform superbly and we narrowly lose on Sunday we will have another "what if" feeling.
Best strategy is be honest with ourselves and give every game our best shot to win.
If FH can honestly say that is the reasoning for his selection then fine and of course we wish our boys well and if he wins all will be forgiven!
PS thanks to those optimists above who have got me dreaming again!!

  • 79.
  • At 01:38 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Hunter M wrote:

Dos it really matter what team Scotland field? They are 319-1 to lift the title with the bookies and will never be anything other than a parenthesis in the great scheme of things.

  • 80.
  • At 01:49 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • George wrote:

Disgraceful in my opinion
Imagine Scotland reaching the football world cup finals and putting the reserves out against Brazil because they think they will lose
They owe it to the fans to play their strongest team and give 100% especially with the ticket prices
that are being charged
Also surely the players want to play the big games otherwise what is the point of even qualifying?
If I was a Scotland player I would be less than chuffed to miss out on probably the biggest game of my career

  • 81.
  • At 02:16 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • AllyB wrote:

If we can beat Italy, Argentina and South Africa then our big guns will get a chance to show what they can do against the All Blacks in the final.

Beating South Africa would be a huge ask but if it happened, how many of the whingers on here would care about Hadden's team selection for tomorrow?

  • 82.
  • At 03:46 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Tony Montana wrote:

I support Frank Haddens decision fully, regardless of which team we put out we are very unlikely to do anything against the ABs anyway.

Why not maximise your chances of getting through to the semi finals.

If we manage that then no-one will complain about paying to see whichever side. In all honesty you are paying good money to see the All Blacks play with the passion they bring to the game.

I hope for a great day a great atmosphere and some cracking Rugby.

  • 83.
  • At 03:56 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • michael wrote:

Okay I'm a Scot and I'm amazed by some of the fan reaction. Firstly they seem to assume the Italy game game will be an easy win but given the wild swings in form we've seen from teams in the RWC whose to say the Italians won't rouse themselves for one good game? Especially after 10 days rest?
If Italy were playing today, or Scotland had the same amount of time off then maybe we should field a full strenght side and go for it but under the circumstances there's no choice except to play it safe and focus on getting beyond the group stages, then it will be time for the heroics.

  • 84.
  • At 05:01 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • rick wrote:

I think that squad rotation in the forwards is essential. We only have one certain selection in the pack and thats Jason White and I don't think there's must separating the other 7 positions. The number of changes is vast but the bulk of this pack could have played in the warm up and nobody would have batted an eyelid. In fact Brown, Callam, and Barclay were probably the form back rowers in Scotland's pro sides last season, whilst McLeod was exception for the Ospreys.

I think in the back we should be at full strength and don't agree with resting the Lamonts.

The players won't believe they are a second string, they'll be up for it and playing for places in the next game. Good luck lads.

  • 85.
  • At 06:20 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Delboy wrote:

I think this is simply a good managerial decision. Scotland's current priority is qualifying from the group (like any other team in the tournament). They simply have to beat (or draw with)Italy to do that. The alternative would be beating the ABs, which is not going to happen.

How many of those posting comments supporting a full strength squad tomorrow would defend their arguments if we played full strength tomorrow and lost to Italy? Hadden would then have some difficult questions to answer.

I paid a lot for my tickets for the game tomorrow, but it's the right decision whichever way you dress it up.

  • 86.
  • At 06:24 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Delboy wrote:

In any case, the squad Hadden named for tomorrow still contains a lot of big names. They may very well be the best team we can field 4 days after a world cup group match. They just aren't our 15 highest rated players.

  • 87.
  • At 07:08 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

What people are missing is that, if you actually go through the team position by position, then the Scotland team is one that could quite feasibly line up in an international match for Scotland if we were missing players through injury/ loss of form.

Bar the two debutants, every player in the starting XV has plenty of international experience. Up until maybe 6 months ago, Southwell, Di Rollo were first chooice. Brown and Callam have always done well when Taylor, White and Hogg have been out injured and Barclay, at 20 years old, could be a star of the future. Why not let him pit his wits against the best team, and arguably the best back row, in world rugby.

The Scotland team that will play tomorrow is extremely competitive and i for one dont believe that we will get hammered, as so many people seem to think.

Lets get behind the boys!

  • 88.
  • At 08:34 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Allan Hornsby wrote:

The selection for the All Blacks game has sent a clear message to Italy; we are going all out to stuff you! If we have to lose one battle to win the war then so be it.

I think whenever you play the All Blacks you should put out your very best team...if this is the best team then fine, but let's face it it's not. Beating the All Blacks must be the aim, you would go down in history.
I cannot believe this attitude of playing an understrength side against the best in the world, it is the ideal opportunity to measure yourself and improve upon it - you never know with a full strength side Scotland could even beat the All Blacks but now they haven't got a hope and are likely to get absolutely whooped but hey they'll beat Italy...well done! Whatever happened to Braveheart?

  • 90.
  • At 09:45 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

re antony:

You are missing the bigger picture here. Granted, a full strength Scotland may have been able to cause an upset and secure an unlikely win over the All Blacks, in the process creating history. But surely, anyone connected with Scottish Rugby( the players, the coaches and the fans) would rather we beat Italy and made it to the Quarter finals and what would appear to be a meeting against Argentina.

I as much as the next fan would love for us to beat the All Blacks, but not if it meant going into the Italy game tired and/ or missing players through injury and risking the chance of what i consider would be an upset. Going into the Italy game now with the likes of White, Hogg, Taylor, Hines et al rested and raring to go, im very confident we will make it to the QF.

And thats what it is all about. They say success breeds success and Scotland getting to the QF, and maybe further, would definitely constitute a success. Therefore, hopefully allowing the team to kick on from there.

FH has done the right thing. Moreover, the team that has been named will still be competitive.

  • 91.
  • At 09:58 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • David MacLeod wrote:

The fifteen players who will be on the pitch tomorrow at Murrayfield ARE 'Scotland' for this match - get behind them and give them the support they deserve.
The ABs will not have it all their own way.
Frank Hadden is doing what a good coach should do and is using the squad sensibly to get a result for the tournament.

  • 92.
  • At 10:20 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • KG wrote:

How utterly pathetic! Braveheart substituted by Wimpheart. I was looking forward to a revitalised Scotland having the guts to take on New Zealand with their best team before a great home crowd. And I'm English! Now I just hope New Zealand stuff Scotland for their total lack of respect.

  • 93.
  • At 10:20 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • macca wrote:

Present medical opinion suggests international forwards NEED 10 days to fully recover from intense international endeavour.FH's decision has to some extent been forced on him by scheduling of the matches.Places for future games are still up for grabs and the players picked for Sunday have a tremendous oppurtunity to prove their selection.Can the doom-mongers stop being so negative and Scottish.I'm sure the young lads will be giving it their all and certainly deserve our support and not be written off by negative comments.You can bet they will play with as much pride,skill and determination as they can muster.Remember, it's easy to critcise when you don't have to make the decisions.Scotland are playing in a tournament of Rugby the seat prices for which are set by RWC/IRB AND aare playing the percentages as any good organisation would.Support them!!!

  • 94.
  • At 11:16 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • genl wrote:

if this is the team to play the all blacks..then in my opinion this should be the team to play the next game ..reason being the knowledge that this team will have after the AB'S game will be like gold to these players..they will know at what level of intensity and the speed of play that is needed to play in this tournament..france sent their B team to tour down under and left their A team at home to prepare for thi tournament..while the french got hammered by the all blacks in the two test they played..they gained invaluable knowledge of the way the game is played in the south..during this tour one player that stood out in the french side CHABEL became a favorite in NZ because of the commitment he showed during the me the only player of interest in the french team..don't get me wrong the rest of the team were all good players that were needed by their country to play NZ..they came' they may not have conquered but what they did leave with was a hell of alot of knowledge and information gained on tour on the demands that are needed to play the game at speed and playing it at speed for 80 mins..the knowledge of the level of fitness and the ball skills and the team input into all their players..i was absolutely amazed at the opening RWC game that the french had named a full strength side made up mostly of players that stayed back in france instead of going on tour to NZ..a side they named as their A team and as history say..they lost that opening game to ARGENTINA..the one player that caught the respsect not only from the AB's but also from the NZ public which is something that is reserved for special players in NZ...SEBASTIAN CHABAL..was left on the reserve bench well into the second half..unbelievable..i'm sure the B side that toured down under may have faired alot better who's to least they knew of the intensity to play with in this world cup from their knowledge of what they learnt from that tour..uncanny as it may seem..ENGLAND did the same thing with their tour to AUSTRLIA with the same results if not better..what i'm trying to say is that these B teams new more about the modern game then most A team players due to their exposure on their tours down under..all is not lost yet'theirs still along way to go yet and the home unions are still hanging in good luck to all..

  • 95.
  • At 11:54 PM on 22 Sep 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

A prediction for the game.

AB's 45 Scotland B 15.

(in a braver Scotland, AB's 35 Scotland A 20).

  • 96.
  • At 12:55 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

re post 93, macca ... the southern Tri-Series nations have games on consecutive weeks (and otherwise 3 top competition games in a month).

Players play the Super 14 week (sometimes having travelled across oceans/seas and time zones to do so) and so are able to cope with this. Often teams have 6 day turn arounds (sometimes from a Sunday afternoon to a Friday night, if playing at home)

The 6 day turn around between the AB game and Italy game is one any Tri-Nations team player has experience of.

And as you note, players who play well against the AB's may play against Italy (and no one would say they would be unable to back up).

That said. What you say about the 10 day period may well be right. It's just that this is what is required for building up to a "new peak" effort. Players can plateau week to week if conditioned and experienced at this.

I suspect the Scottish team strategy is to build up to a peak for the quarter-final (via Romania to Italy and onto Argentina) and then to repeat this peak effort in a competitive semi-final match-up (as per 1991).

The coach and team may get kudos for this.

But if France win group D (Ireland beat Argentina and deny them a bonus point) and Scotland lost to France in the quarter-final, they may regret not playing their top team against the AB's at Murrayfield. Who knows how close they could have made this game (against the likely winners).

"one armed Bob" clansman down under.

  • 97.
  • At 10:18 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Lynne wrote:

FH has made a sound decision. Fielding a fresh, excited side against the ABs is the only way we could have a chance in both this match and the one against Italy.

Whatever happens today will be an adventure for everyone watching and well worth the money spent on tickets. We are the best nation in the world at being underdogs, after all.

  • 98.
  • At 10:41 AM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • NeilinNZ wrote:

I think everyone agrees we'd rather see the full whack team play, but it's not a bad side - I reckon at least half of them have been first choices in recent months, and Paterson, Henderson and Webster are clearly a fair chunk of our top back line.
We have a 30 man squad for a reason, so we should use it. End of story.

  • 99.
  • At 12:01 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

In 2000 my Father and i were sitting in a Glasgow pub the night before Scotland faced England in in what was due to be Englands final walkover on their way to a grand slam. With Scotland having lost every one of their previous four games and England having won each of their previous four nobody, not even the most optimistic of Scottish fans was givving us a chance in hell. Had we not just made the miserable 6 hour car journey from London to be there we probably would have left our tickets on the table for the next gullable sap to pick up. The journey through to Edinburgh the next day was no better and as we trudged into The stadium we were starting to wonder why we had even bothered. However, as we all know, something pretty special happened on that miserable, rainy Edinburgh night and the looks on the faces of the English "champions" made it one of the sweetest nights of my life. Now i'm not saying Scotland are going to be able to pull off a result (that would probably require a late change to the team sheet with Harry Potter being awarded his first cap at full back) but lets just get out there, support the team and judge the value of admission when the clock strikes eighty.

  • 100.
  • At 12:38 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • StuStan wrote:

What is increasingly annoying me is that FH is sounding more and more like a politician during interviews. Fact is he can't say this would not be his team selection were this match a knock-out affair. Although part of me would at least like him to elude to that; all this "utterly reject" it being a weakened team is just really gilding the lily.

He's known the 4 match sequence for ages, so he's had some idea of what type of XV he'd play in each game for a long time - had he chosen, he could have selected this XV or very similar against Portugal or Romania but didn't. He's keeping his powder dry and in terms of further progress in the tournie it's very hard to argue with his logic.

It also sticks in my craw to hear Sean F'patrick carp on about us putting out our best XV only to admit that the AB's are missing two or three of their best available starters (re; Sports Weekly interview with JB). The way they're shaping up it its reminiscent of the blow-hard English sides of the early/mid-90s ~ everybody wants them to get a stuffing whoever they play. Just a scintilla of humility wouldn't go amiss from the AB's - we know you're good, very good - just keep it to yourself and we'll respect your skill & prowess all the more.

Give'em hell lads. . .

  • 101.
  • At 01:59 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

re post 100.

SF was last an AB in the mid 90's period of the England era you refer to.

He is as critical of the AB's for not playing their best team between the 4 yearly World Cup knock out games (and for taking some of the AB's out of the Super 14 comp this year). He is critical of ALL teams not playing their best sides in international games between World Cups.

His main point is the devaluing of the international game outside of the World Cup. Taking it to the point of criticisng a team for the way they rotate their squad during the qualifying stage of the World Cup is however an innovation on his part.

The only solution to the problem he cites is to establish a league style championship between international teams (home and away internationals occuring in the 3 years between World Cups). Particularly if this was to determine rankings at the following World Cup.

  • 102.
  • At 04:22 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Welshcol wrote:

Who picked the team colours????
As the commentator said you are better off watching in Black and White!
The only way you can tell is that the attacking side and playing well must be the All blacks!

  • 103.
  • At 05:57 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Kip wrote:

Well played Scotland, excellent defence given the situation. Well done on the ref for picking up ABs forward passes (how many times in the past have we seen ABs score thier tries from forward passes...). Scotland should beat Italy and would imagine ABs will choke close to the semis or finals if they continue to play the way they did today. So much for Henry selecting his best XV... As for Scotland, if that was their second string side troubling a first pick AB (in the past encounters even a first pick Scotland team would have done well to trouble an AB team) then, Scotland are slowing building up depth.

  • 104.
  • At 05:57 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Alan Melville wrote:

Huh. Pathetic. Brilliant team selection Frank; way to inspire confidence, huh?

  • 105.
  • At 06:04 PM on 23 Sep 2007,
  • Kip wrote:

Well played Scotland, excellent defence given the situation. Well done on the ref for picking up ABs forward passes (how many times in the past have we seen ABs score thier tries from forward passes...). Scotland should beat Italy and would imagine ABs will choke close to the semis or finals if they continue to play the way they did today. So much for Henry selecting his best XV... As for Scotland, if that was their second string side troubling a first pick AB (in the past encounters even a first pick Scotland team would have done well to trouble an AB team) then, Scotland are slowing building up depth.

  • 106.
  • At 05:13 AM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

Scotland said they would play in blue ...

The confusing strips meant AB's were not as fluent with the ball ...

I picked a 30 point win - while the Scottish loose forwards and Cusiter were as good as expected (as with the A unit it's the strength of the team) the rest were a little disappointing when in possession.

  • 107.
  • At 07:23 AM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • brian wrote:

who ever picked the jerseys we were playing in says it all--absolutly team should have been in white..even kids spotted this

  • 108.
  • At 04:34 PM on 24 Sep 2007,
  • AHHHHH!!!!! wrote:

We were p1sh! simple as that, Paterson is no 10 and to be honest looked like a wee school boy who just booted his ball through the glass window every time he got the ball he panicked.

Put Paterson to 15 (only reason for him in the team is his kicking) keep Parks at 10 and put the Lamont brothers on the wing's have Henderson / Dewey in inside centre and Webster at outside with Hugo on the bench to cover the whole back line as he is a fairly adaptable player that can slot into many different roles.

y keeping Parks at 10 the whole backline keep there shape and stability in defence and attack Parks plays a good game trusting his pack to win line outs and uses this to our advantage by kicking the lines when needed to put us into a scoring position where the likes of Rory and Sean can do the damage both are good finishers obviously Rory is having a far better W/Cup than Sean but Sean is still a quality player.

The performance against NZ was a disgrace not to score any points is simply not on, i never thought we would win the game form the moment the pool's were announced but i thought we could have given then a far better game and the fans a far better display especially at those prices! Still i hope FH has learnt allot from this shambles and sorts it all out in time for the Italy game on Saturday otherwise were done for!! Scotland have never failed to qualify for the quarter finals and have even once made it to semi final only to be put out by the auld enemy (just thank god they didnt win it that year as well!!)

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